View on GitHub



This site is a collection of resources for academic engagement with web defacements. It has three main parts:

  1. The archive, based on the defacement mirror (coming soon, see the next section for more information)
  2. Research blog showing examples of using web defacements for research
  3. A collection of resources and publications

What are web defacements?

Web defacements are unauthorized alterations or overwrites of existing web pages. While web pages might be defaced for a number of reasons ranging from cyber war campaigns to competitive hacking, web pages are also defaced for the expression and propagation of political content in the widest sense. Web defacements as a form of hacktivism are rarely archived and thus mostly lost for systematic study.

The Archive

The data source used for this project is the defacement mirror provided by The site has been collecting defacement from 1999 until 2001 and in March 2021 has published their archive and some of their archiving tools on GitHub.

The release provides a novel data source for the research of web histories, social movements online and the history of political hacking in the pre-2002 era. Complementing this data source are custom finding aids such as an external link network. With this defacement archive publicly available, the archive may help further research and also offers the potential to be expanded in the future. The available data source - essentially the complete website, including the defacement archive - presented a rare opportunity for the development of an archive. The defacements were old, in many cases predating the start of national collections, but defacements were also mostly political in content. Combining these two attributes, the defaced pages offered the opportunity to provide valuable insight into the history of political expression through illicit means.

A good way to get started is to look at this link network. It will show you significant nodes in-and outside the network. With this, you will be able to see if any of the pages are relevant to you, and you can also begin to understand what topics defacers address by checking the external links. A more detailled link network is upcoming, pending a forthcoming publication.

Access to the collection is restricted to research use only. To get access, email me from your institution email and I will set up an account for you.

Click here to access the archive


Abount once a month I am going to post here about findings from the archive.

Further Reading