Incident Response, TDR

Atheists’ MySpace page restored after hacking incident

The “Atheist and Agnostic Group” MySpace page has been reactivated, a month after the page was deleted following a November 2007 hacking incident where unauthorized users renamed it “Jesus is Love.”

The incident is the second reported high profile cyberattack in recent months on a religion-oriented webpage. Last month, the Church of Scientology's website experienced disruptions after it was threatened by a hacker group.

Bryan Pesta, a Cleveland State University assistant professor and the atheist group's founder, told the Cleveland Plain Dealer last week that his 35,000-member webpage had been shut down twice by the social networking site since its 2004 founding.

More than 830 MySpace members have signed an online petition calling for the page to be reestablished and protected by the networking site, which is owned by international media conglomerate News Corp.

A MySpace spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday that the site was accidentally deleted in January, but restored this month following its November 2007 defacement by a hacker.

The restored page on Wednesday carried a statement thanking MySpace for reinstating the group.

The page also linked to a petition seeking an agreement “with MySpace to ensure that groups attacked by hackers, phishers, spammers and pinheads can be fixed quickly and effectively.”

Pesta could not be immediately reached for comment.

Last month, a hacker group calling itself “Anonymous” said in a video posted on YouTube that it would “systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form.” The church's official website could not be accessed at various times in the days following the threat.

Jose Nazario, senior security and software engineer at Arbor Networks, said last month on his blog that researchers had detected nearly 500 DDoS attacks against the church, with an average size of 15,000 packets per second.

The incident followed the church's copyright infringement claims following the spread of edited clips from a 2004 promotional video featuring actor Tom Cruise.

Anonymous also claimed that the church filtered anti-Scientology comments posted on YouTube, and other websites.

Ken Pappas, security strategist at Top Layer Networks, an intrusion-prevention provider, told at the time that cyberattackers were likely using botnets to attack the church.

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