Main Website hackers are schoolboys

Attacks on company and government Internet sites spike during school holidays when the main culprits -- schoolboys -- spend time in front of their computers rather than in the classroom.

There were almost 400,000 attacks on Websites around the world last year, a surge of 36 percent from 2003, said a report issued by Internet watchdog agency Zone-H to coincide with a London information security exhibition.

"A lot of 15- and 16-year-old guys are smart enough to have strong political opinions," Roberto Preatoni, Zone-H founder, told Reuters on Monday.

The main targets are U.S. military Websites, which are attacked by anti-Iraq war protesters, and large companies and governments, which attract anti-globalisation protesters.

Preatoni said the tools needed to hack into and change Websites were available on the Internet and were easy to use.

"For the average person it sounds complicated but if you know what you are doing it's really quite easy," he said.

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