RealTime IT News

RIAA Site Defaced by Hackers

The Recording Industry Association of America was the victim of a hack Wednesday, forcing network administrators to shut down the site and look for the hole in its Web server.

The RIAA has drawn the scorn of legions of Internet denizens in recent years for its stance on Internet radio broadcast fees and peer-to-peer networking. The organization became infamous to millions of users after filing an injunction against the popular free music-swapping program, Napster.

But even if and when the organization does find out what happened, RIAA spokesman Jonathan Lamy told internetnews.com he wouldn't issue any information about the defacement.

"All I can tell you is there's a problem with our site that we are fixing," Lamy said. "It should be back up shortly."

Only the home page was defaced, as far as officals can tell, though the links pointed to existing RIAA.org Web pages. The defaced site featured such tidbits as "Inside the RIAA with Eric Cartman" -- the best-known character from the irreverent Comedy Central cartoon "South Park" -- and "Piracy can be beneficial to the music industry" -- an acerbic touch flung in the face of the biggest opponent to digital music piracy.

Also, a link entitled "Where can I find information on giant monkeys?" took readers to the biography page of Hilary Rosen, RIAA chief executive officer.

Members of the offbeat Fark.com online forum cheered the hackers responsible, saying they were not only able to deface the site, but shut it down entirely after thousands flocked to the RIAA.org site to see the defacement.

As of press time, a mirror site of the defacement is available here.

One Fark.com reader, RepoMan, chimed in with one possible reaction by the RIAA:

"The RIAA response to this will be entertaining in itself. Of course they will go crying to their friends in government like Tonya Harding with her broken lace: "See, this is what we're up against... we're just trying to make an honest dollar and these computer pirates are knocking over our sand castles."

Since exercising its considerable muscle in court versus Napster -- perceived by many in the industry as a startup that revolutionized the way music is shared on the Internet --the RIAA has been a convenient target for hackers.

In July, an unknown hacker or hackers brought the RIAA site to its knees with a denial of service (DOS) attack. It was an ironic turn of events for the organization; a month prior, legislation was proposed that would have given the RIAA (and other intellectual owners) the right to shut down peer-to-peer networks using DOS-style tactics.

Robert Lyttle, better known for the role he played in the Deceptive Duo hacks that landed him in hot water this year, gained his reputation defacing hundreds of Web sites in 2000 to protest the RIAA's actions.