Hackers attack Champaign, Ill.-based Internet Service Provider

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- Hackers have sent a local Internet service provider into overtime.

Sol Tec, based in Champaign, has been under siege since early Thursday, said Lanette Cannady, the director of business development, but most customers were fully functioning as of Friday afternoon.

Cannady said police and the FBI have been contacted, and a criminal investigation is in process.

In addition, private consultants are helping to ferret out the computer attacker.

"We noticed the first attack sometime in mid-September. With that, there was some interruption to our services," she said.

"On Thursday about 4 a.m., a malicious hacker hit again" causing a "denial of service," she said.

Purdue University was also experiencing hacker attacks Friday, but the university said it was a different type of access seeking personal data and causing school officials to tell the community to change passwords.

"This hacker is not going after personal information. Clients have been informed, and none were compromised. The intent seems to be to disrupt services," she said.

"All of our other services up except e-mail, and we're working on that."

One consultant has no other task than to seek out the hacker's identity, Cannady added.

Will Johnston, a customer service technician said, "You've got a whole lot of people out there with computer science degrees" who are out of work or underemployed, with time on their hands to hack systems.

"Sol Tec employees are continuing to work, and the customers have been great about it," Cannady said.

In February, hackers shut down Prairienet, the community computer network for East Central Illinois. Intruders attempted to install "sniffing" software to collect Prairienet e-mail addresses, passwords and other information, but the software was incompatible with Prairienet's mail system and brought the server down.