The number of Web site defacements has reached an all-time high with over 9,000 attacks this month, according to London security consultancy mi2g Ltd.

The figure is 54 per cent higher than for August’s figure of 5,830 defacements, which was itself a record high, mi2g said.

In particular, there has been rising antagonism across the digital world against the U.S. This month has seen defacements of Web sites in the U.S. belonging to the House of Representatives, Department of Agriculture, Department of Education, National Park Service, Goddard & Marshall Space Flight Centers, State Library and U.S. Geological Survey, mi2g said.

According to mi2g, U.S. registered Web sites have been successfully defaced 4,157 times so far this month, followed by Brazil (835), the U.K. (376), Germany (356) and India (285).

Hackers are finding an increasing number of vulnerabilities in operating systems, server software, applications and libraries deployed on mission-critical systems, making it impossible for systems administrators to patch vulnerabilities without suffering severe downtime, the consultancy said.

Although the majority of defacements were made on systems running Microsoft Corp.’s Windows operating system, a significant number of them were made on Linux, BSD Unix and Solaris-based machines.

The total number of defacements this year has already passed the total number of defacements in 2001, mi2g said. Web site defacements have steadily risen in number from 1998, when there were 269, through 1999 (4,197), 2000 (7,821) and 2001 (31,322). Already this year, 40,116 defacements had been recorded by Sept. 25, leading to projections of 55,000 Web site defacements for the whole of 2002, mi2g said.