May 23, 2007 01:30am
ABC Island, the third-most-visited commercial site in the online game that has more than six million members globally, was found as a "bombed, cratered mess" yesterday.
Craig Preston, head of technology for ABC innovation, said only the digital transmission tower was left standing on the island, which cost the ABC tens of thousands of dollars to create.
"It looks like we've had some enormous cyber-bomb set off on our site," Mr Preston said.
"Somebody has nuked us in some way, shape or form, and they've obliterated almost every object on the site."
The online vandalism, called "griefing", took several hours to repair.
The ABC was the first major Australian brand to embrace Second Life, in which people exist in a virtual world where they can buy cyber-goods, own digital islands and interact with other players around the world.
Mr Preston said the ABC was at a loss to identify who had vandalised the site, but the owners of Second Life, California-based Linden Labs, might have digital recordings of the vandalism taking place.
The vandals left logos for sports brands Nike and Puma on the island, prompting speculation that the attack could be the work of a commercial rival jealous of the ABC's success.
But sources suggested the logos could have been an attempt to throw investigators off the trail.
Second Life was launched in 2003, but did not come to prominence until last year when corporations such as Sony, IBM and Reuters bought islands and began marketing to visitors.
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