Anon hackers have been caught boasting about defacing a counterfeit Yorkshire Bank website.
Hacktivist crew Anon Ghost earned coverage on underground security blogs for defacing “Yorkshire Bank, one of the largest United Kingdom bank (sic)”.
However, the hackers actually hit "ybs-bank.com", a Malaysian imitation of the real Yorkshire Bank website – which can be found at ybonline.co.uk – as security researchers at Cambridge University point out.
The real website and that of a similarly named banking institution, Yorkshire Building Society (http://www.ybs.co.uk), were both unharmed and unaltered.
Ybs-bank.com, on the other hand, remains defaced as of late morning on Thursday with a message "We are watching you: Don't close your eyes" and a Japanese horror movie-themed clip complete with ominous music. Evidence from Google's cache suggests before this Ybs-bank.com was probably a phishing site.
"The pages appear to be an imperfect copy of www.cbmarkets.co.uk (a Clydesdale bank website) and this copy was was made some time in 2011, judging from the age of the news stories in the copy," writes security researcher Dr Richard Clayton, in a blog post on the Cambridge University Computer Laboratory's Light Blue Touchpaper blog.
"I have no reason to believe that anything good would happen to a Yorkshire Bank user (or a Yorkshire Building Society) user who used their credentials at the Malaysian-owned website,” he added.
According to Whois, the ybs-bank.com domain didn’t exist before 2011, Clayton adds. The whole incident illustrates the difficulty banks face in identifying and seeking the takedown of counterfeit sites, some of which rely on exploiting confusion about a bank's genuine online location.
The defaced domain has to be considered potentially harmful since malware might easily be served from the compromised site. This is unlikely to be Anon Ghost's intention, but why take the risk?
In any case, the article about their exploits is not one for Anon Ghost's scrapbook. Yet it is arguably a lot less embarrassing than an incident where hacktivists mistakenly attacked a French rugby fansite instead of their intended target, the German stock exchange. That misdirected assault meant the allezdax.com website, a fan site for French second division side rugby club Dax, was unavailable for two weeks back in 2011.
Pretty lame but for a complete fail try an incident the year before, when geographically mixed-up Algerian hackers defaced the site of Belvoir Castle, home of the Teddy Bears' picnic, instead of their intended target, Belvoir Fortress – a Christian outpost during the Crusades. ®