RealNews

Student's Web site hacked by al-Qaida

It could be any foreign student’s nightmare: the FBI wants to talk to you about your connections to al-Qaida. Such was the case with Conrado Salas Cano, a PSU graduate student in physics and environmental science. Unknown to him his Web site was carrying al-Qaida’s claim of responsibility for the Sept. 11 attacks, the suicide-bombing of the USS Cole, the 1998 bombings of two US Embassies in Africa and page after page of terrorist propaganda in Arabic. This all came as an unpleasant surprise to Cano, who grew up in Northeastern Spain, and has been on a student visa since he started his undergraduate work at the California Institute of Technology. Cano is no terrorist-he first learned about the additions to his Web page in an e-mail. “I was shocked out of my wits, as you can imagine, when I saw the subject line in the e-mail saying, ‘Do you know you’re hosting an al-Qaida Web site?'” said Cano, “I just kind of went pale.” Cano hadn’t noticed because the hackers left all his personal pages alone. Instead, they added material and then covered their tracks. For a while, the SITE Institute, a non-profit counter-terrorism research group, listed a subpage of Cano’s site as al-Qaida’s official Web site. The added pages weren’t linked to Cano’s site, so no change was visible to a casual observer. It wasn’t until an Internet terrorism watchdog group sent Cano the URL of the al-Qaida propaganda that he got a chance to look at what had been added. Full Story

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