Local government is wide open to hacking attacks from political activists and disgruntled citizens, according to a top protest hacker.
Speaking in a debate at London's Institute of Contemporary Arts, Paul Mobbs of the Electrohippies Collective identified the technology shortcomings of the public sector as prime territory for online protest.
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"That will be the next area to be attacked because it is a sector that has traditionally under-funded on IT," he warned.
A spokeswoman for the Local Government Association acknowledged the problems that such an attack could cause. "Bombarding a council with e-mails will only slow down the consultation process and could distract officers from their job of providing services to the rest of the community, although I do stress that every individual voice counts," she said.
Mobbs also believes that a lack of technical expertise is leaving businesses open to attack, especially dotcoms. He said, "A lot of people who install computer systems in large corporations do not know what they are doing. If you look at the Internet start-ups, a lot of them happened so quickly at a time when everyone was wrapped up with Y2K that they neglected security."
A number of UK companies have already suffered at the hands of activists. Last year, controversial drug testing company Huntingdon Life Sciences faced over 400 attempts by protest hackers to infiltrate its Web site.