Follow by Email
Visit Us

By: Jason Williams

‘If They Can Bring Down Yahoo!, They Can Bring Down Anybody’

NEW ORLEANS – After hackers clogged up at least seven major Web sites
this week, attendees at E&P’s Interactive Newspapers Conference
considered their susceptibility to e-sabotage.

Web giants Yahoo!,,, eBay,, E*Trade, and
ZDNet were the targets of massive information overloads that
interrupted service for 4 to 5 hours on some sites.

CNN Interactive Managing Editor Chuck Westbrook tells E&P that his
site’s service never went completely down but was ‘erratic’ for an hour
and forty-five minutes on Tuesday. USA Today and The New York Times
, however, listed CNN’s ‘downtime’ at 3 1/2 hours.

The FBI has launched an investigation into the cyber-attacks, but
reports suggest the culprits have hidden their tracks extremely well by
using various unsecure computers and launching the information blitz
without the knowledge of the computer owners whose machines were
hijacked in a kind of phalanx attack.

‘There is no way that you can say you’re bulletproof,’ Westbrook said.
‘If they can bring down Yahoo!, they can bring down anybody.’

Don Thibeau, vice president of business development for Lexis-Nexis,
wondered how long it will be before these attacks are used as
‘competitive business tools’ rather than the acts of individual
hackers. ‘It just shows you how immature, how susceptible [the Web]
is,’ Thibeau said.

Although no newspaper sites were apparently affected by the
cyberattacks, online managers aren’t resting on their laurels.

Chris Jennewin, COO of, said his site has taken
precautions against hacking with the help of Infinet, but he admits
companies with many Web sites, like Knight Ridder, are more vulnerable
to these kinds of attacks.

‘[The Internet] is a target-rich environment,’ adds Gerry Barker,
general manager of Belo Interactive.

But when it comes to hacking, it may be the bigger the site, the bigger
the problem. ‘To be dead honest, I don’t think that we’re big enough to
worry about it,’ says Terrence Gordon, online media director for LA
Weekly. Rob Kermode, vice president of the Orange County Register ,
agrees that hackers would probably be less interested in hacking into
newspaper sites.

But Lisa O’Farrell, associate publisher of The Daily Deal, comments
that her small financial site, was still taking steps to
stop hackers after having been the victims of a bogus posting.

‘I think this will certainly open people’s eyes to the possibility,’
says Robert MacKenzie, communication manager, Canadian Community
Newspaper Association.


Jason Williams ( ) is the new
media reporter for Editor & Publisher magazine.

(c) Copyright 2000, Editor & Publisher

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *