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Hacker Attack Brings Down Animation Websites

At the tail end of 2005, a computer hacker calling himself "the Persian Fox" began attacking hundreds of U.S. websites, including scores run by animation companies.

You keep abusing, Islams almighty Prophet with disgusting and disgraceful cartoons using excuses of freedom of speech reads the onscreen message (including the misplaced comma) that replaced the sites regular content. The majority of sites hacked, however, have no connection to the recent uproar over Danish cartoons belittling Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

One victim was New Brunswick, Canadas Fatkat Animation Studios, who saw its home site hit on March 16, 2006, as well as the independent sites for several of its projects. Were looking into tighter security, but we were pretty secure to start with, so the hackers knew what they were doing, said Andrew Dunn, Fatkats business manager.

New York Citys Big Hug Productions, producers of the MY ADVENTURES WITH CLOE series being animated by Fatkat, saw its shows website hit as well. Its been a frenzy the last few days, according Buddy Bolton, co-creator of the adult series about a bad-tempered Brooklyn sea monster. Weve had Fox News here, the FBI has been investigating. The hackers were putting messages on our site like Jesus would hate you and Iran deserves nuclear weapons now.

In spite of the hackers professed Islamic outrage, the FBI isnt ready to pin the misdeed on Middle Eastern extremists. As of yet, the Bureau hasnt ruled out the possibility the hacking may be the work of pranksters. We dont presume just because there are Arabic characters in the content thats the origin or political agenda of the hacker, cautions Jim Margolin of the FBIs New York office. Thats not necessarily relevant to our investigation. Our inquiry is to determine the origin of the hacking.

Its a challenge that can sometimes be resolved quickly, but sometimes cant be traced, Margolin admits. While avoiding specifics about the bureaus progress, he points out that the hack might be traced back to a country that will refuse to cooperate with the investigation.

In the meantime, website administrators are beefing up their security protocols and animation producers like Bolton are keeping their fingers crossed. These guys are getting better and theyre really tenacious. Its a little scary the threat is growing and its definitely going to get worse over time.

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