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Hackers battle, but big sites survive

A battle among hackers erupted on the Internet Sunday as some factions disrupted a loosely coordinated "contest" among other groups trying to vandalize thousands of Web sites around the world.

Hackers for hours knocked offline an independent security Web site, www.zone-h.org, that was verifying reports of online vandalism and being used by hackers to tally points for the competition. U.S. government and private technology experts warned last week such vandalism was likely.

Three vigilante-style attacks forced the hacker organizer, who used the name Eleonora67, to extend the contest until 6 p.m. Sunday. But with continued attacks disrupting the ability of vandals to claim credit for their breakins, experts said it could be later this week before damage would be known.

By late Sunday afternoon, hackers claimed responsibility for vandalizing hundreds of mostly obscure Web sites, such as ones for Security Title Co. and the Heart of Montana Realty Services, both of Bozeman, Mont.

There were no reports of vandalism involving flagship Internet sites most consumers would recognize, a testament to improved online security over the past decade inside large corporations, government agencies and organizations.

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