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Defacement is a form of vandalism in which a website is marked by hackers or crackers who are trying to make their mark. Usually, website defacement is used to mask a bigger crime being committed behind the scenes.
Website defacement is usually done using SQL injections to log on the administrator’s account. The usual targets for defacement are government organizations and religious websites. These acts are usually perpetrated by activists (or hacktivists) working against the principles and ideals of the sponsoring organization.
Defacement usually occurs on a popular website with many viewers. The vandalism usually contains images of the victim, which are often photo-edited as a joke or to express hatred. This may be done by adding a beard or horns and captions against the person or organization. The hacker then displays his or her pseudo-name for publicity.
There are even online contests in the hacking community to determine who can deface the most websites in a certain amount of time. The websites that have been defaced are forced to go offline to undergo maintenance, causing a loss to the organization in the form of wasted time and effort.
The defacement of a website will also turn off the site's visitors and provide the impression that the defaced website may not be secure and is incapable of protecting its own property.