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Hacker attack brings Auburn Chamber of Commerce Website temporarily down

Problem could lead to upgrade in business organization’s site
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - The Auburn Chamber of Commerce Website was wearing a new, unwanted look Monday after being victimized by a hacker.

While a stream of letters cascaded on a black background in a page view similar to “The Matrix” titles sequence, a faceless figure in a hoodie and the words “Hacker” and “Khmer Hacker 1” declared that the Website was under cybercriminal siege.

Chamber Executive Officer Bruce Cosgrove said Monday that the site had been hacked into and changed over the past week. Attempts were ongoing to address the problem, he said.

“We won’t know the cost until it’s done,” Cosgrove said. “Our IT guy thought he had it fixed last night. It appears the meter runs until it’s done.”

Cosgrove said that the breach of the chamber’s firewall means the business organization will do whatever is necessary to add extra security it may need. It is also pointing the chamber toward discussions on the possibility of revamping its Website, he said.

At 3 p.m. Monday, Cosgrove reported the chamber site was running normally again. He said that site visitors could refresh their browser if the hacked image was still coming up.  

The Zone H Website, which tracks so-called “hackers” and their efforts to seek out and punish weaknesses in computers and computer networks, lists a Khmer Hacker 1 operating out of Thailand and claiming hundreds of Website breaches from December 21 to last Wednesday throughout the world.

Vincent Sodini, a computer technician with PC Solutions of Auburn, said he was unfamiliar with that particular hacker causing other problems with other Websites in Auburn.

Sodini said that while filters can stop most attacks, not all can be stopped.

“Nothing’s 100 percent,” Sodini said. “If a man can make it, a man can break it. There are so many things out there that target different, specific things.”

Cosgrove said that the lesson to be learned is to be aware of what security measures are available.

“We have security on the Website but not high-cost security,” Cosgrove said. “Until now, problems have been minimal.”

The chamber’s site has been operational for several years. While the number of views weren’t available, Cosgrove said AuburnChamber.net is popular with people looking for events and information on Auburn.

The impact has been lessened by the timing of the attack. Traffic is lower than normal on the site at this time because of lower activity after Christmas, Cosgrove said.

“It has been a good site that has served the community and the chamber well,” Cosgrove said. “We’ve had thoughts over the past year about rebuilding the site. This might prompt us to do it, sooner or later.”