London, June 15 (ANI): Hackers have taken over hundreds of government, school and university websites in Britain, which direct users to pornographic websites, revealed a new research.
The researchers pointed out more than 30 school and university websites' domain names, which have been infected with content that could direct children to illicit content on the net.
The hacked websites, which include primary schools, universities, the Driving Standards Association and various local government websites-such as the Historic Scotland heritage site-have fallen prey to hackers, who exploit loopholes in badly designed software.
All the websites were affected in different ways-some contained inappropriate links on their home pages and others in different sections of their sites.
Backup Technology and digital agency, Branded 3, who jointly conducted the research, said that the hackers were motivated by the money they could earn from porn sites by boosting their traffic.
They also direct people to banned sites-claiming to sell products such as Viagra and hardcore pornography-in order to install viruses or 'malware' (bad software) on people's computers so they can raid people's personal details and then steal their money.
The researchers found that over 30 school and university websites' domain names, ending "ac.uk", had been infected with content that could direct children away from the safety of a school site to a third party site owned by the hacker.
The problem was also present with government websites ending ".gov.uk", which are usually trusted web addresses.
The damage done by the hackers can be seen on Google search results pages showing government websites and university websites hacked to sell viagra.
"We are still considering what to do with the information we have come across. We intend to inform the affected parties imminently.
However, the problem for many of these sites is that there won't be a quick fix. They will need to run an audit of the security software used by their site and then reinstall new software that is more secure," the Telegraph quoted Patrick Altoft, director of search at Branded 3, as saying.
He added: "We also spotted many of the schools were using the same software, making it easier for hackers to target multiple sites. This was the same scenario with many government sites."
It is possible for web users to see which sites have been hacked by typing into Google's search engine, "inurl:ac.uk", in order to limit the search to British education websites and then adding a phrase such as "buy viagra". (ANI)