Al Gore's Website Hit by Spammers

Dennis Faas's picture

Talk about 'An Inconvenient Spoof'; the website for Al Gore's documentary An Inconvenient Truth has been breached by hackers.

The blog page of has been altered to include links to more than eighty pages, each named after a different product from an online pharmacy. The products include Viagra, Vicadin and Prozac. (Source:

The links only appear in the page's source code (which tells the computer what to display). They aren't ordinarily visible on-screen to site visitors, so it seems likely the hackers are not intending to lure people directly to their site.

Instead they're trying to gain 'cyber-prestige' by having their links appear on a popular site. Many search engines such as Google are believed to use this as an important factor in their search rankings; if a large, established site links to your page, you will rate more highly than if you only have links from obscure sites.

It's a relatively new variation on a common hacking technique. In the past, hackers used automated systems to leave fake responses on the 'comments' section of blogs, linking to their own sites. Because this technique was so obvious, it was more of an irritation forcing blog owners to either delete the messages manually or make readers register before leaving an opinion.

These links in particular point to pages for the business department at Westmont College, a Christian school in Santa Barbara. According to Adam Thomas, a hacking expert, the most likely explanation is that the school itself has been the victim of hackers. He points out that both sites use the WordPress blogging software, which has known security holes.

The pages the links point to aren't currently active, though it's likely the hackers were waiting until they achieved the high rankings on search engines before launching the pages offering the drugs.

Roger Thompson, who is head of technology at a computer security firm, says things could have been worse. He explains that hackers who get access to a page's source code could easily add in instructions to infect visitors' computers with viruses. (Source:

Although the attack on Gore's site doesn't disrupt the reader, it certainly has nefarious potential.  It's another reason to update or install that anti-virus software and firewall.

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