A dinosaur, a duck and a hack that wasn't

Was it really a hack? Last week, for about five hours, an image of a dinosaur on Universal Pictures' film site for The Lost World (http://www.lost- world.com) was replaced by an image of a rubber duck, signed "hackers" at the bottom. Prima-facie evidence of hacking?

Not so, said some on the Net after a closer look: "This was a publicity stunt and it's pathetic," said one, who pointed out that the image was professionally designed, closely copying the original, "brush-stroke" effect of the original dinosaur. More important was the "last modified" date on the image: "That on the duck image was in fact two days before the date on the dinosaur image that was supposed to be on the site."

A publicity stunt? Universal denied it hotly. But hackers are angry at the media for having been taken in: "They did not check the basic facts of the story ..." (In fact, The Independent did look at the site.) "Real examples of hacking on the Net include the CIA site turned into the Central Stupidity Agency, and the US Justice Department site changed to display pornographic images. These are prime examples of hacking."

By their works shall ye know them.

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