Tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime. Unfortunately, the famous epithet proved harder to apply to a prominent UK government anti-crime website hijacked last week by phishing scammers.

An exploit let the hackers take over the Crime Reduction website, using the domain to host a page designed to rob customers of an Italian bank of their details. At least it made an abysmal government website vaguely interesting for about half a second. Does anyone actually make use of this wallpaper websites such as this? Apparently the scammers do.

It’s an odd one. Why Italian banking consumers would think it convincing that a local Bank would be hosting a login page on a UK government website is hard to fathom. It could just be that was the only official website they could hijack that was anywhere close to being convincing.

Perhaps the tricksters thought it was funny to hack a UK anti-crime website, though again this is a joke that falls flat. The British just assume as a matter of course that governments are incompetent, especially their own. It’s something they share with Italians come to think of it.

Hacking legitimate websites has turned out to be the security story of the year. Admins all over the websphere have been in buttock-clenching mode as they pore over their site code for possible flaws. Will anyone really big get caught out or will someone pull off a big scam from a real website? And none of this is new – hijacking websites has been around for donkey’s years.