French Web Site Hacked Over Olympic Poll

    May 1, 2008

Hackers hit the Web site of a French magazine in an effort to influence an opinion poll about the Beijing Olympics and change the site’s content.

The Web site of business magazine Capital was first attacked in March, when it featured a poll asking if France should boycott the opening ceremony of the Games in China, according to publisher Jean-Joel Gurviez.

"On the first day, we had about 300 responses, which was normal for this type of poll, and they were 80 percent in favour of a boycott. The next day there were 20,000 responses, with 80 percent opposing a boycott," Gurviez said.

Nearly all of the responses came from Chinese servers, Gurviez said, and technicians originally believed it was caused by Chinese sites encouraging patriotic citizens to vote.

"But a few days later we had hackers operating off servers in China try to change our content, and there were 2.5 million attempts to access protected files. We had to shut down the site temporarily," Gurviez told Reuters.

Chinese Internet users have been increasingly active online posting patriotic commentary as the August games approach, and critical of France for not doing more to protect the Olympic torch relay from human rights protesters while it made its way through Paris.

Guerviez said the magazine did not have direct proof the attacks came from Chinese hackers, but it has filed a complaint with the police.

"The attacks came after the torch protests, many were attempts to post pro-Chinese slogans, and all came from computers in China, so I think it’s pretty clear, he said.