According to the contest website, defacers-challenge.com, which was taken offline last week, hackers were urged to prove their skills by defacing as many websites as possible during a six-hour span on Sunday.

The "Defacer's Challenge" got off to a quick start on Sunday with 300 attacks reported minutes after the 0600 GMT official start, said Roberto Preatoni, founder of Estonia-based Zone-H.org, a site that tracks hack attacks.

"There were no big names," he said. But he added his own site, zone-h.org, was knocked offline for much of the day because of a high volume of legitimate visitors and apparent attempts by hackers to bog down his computer servers.

The contest awarded points for the number and type of computer servers they infiltrated, according to the rules stated.

No large scale attack

But concern among cyber security organisations increased last week as they feared a crippling of countless websites.

On Sunday afternoon however, there was no sign of damage among the internet’s most popular sites.

Amazon.com, and Yahoo.com – the world’s largest websites, were functioning as normal on Sunday.

"It seems to be a damp squib," said Graham Cluley, spokesman for UK-based security firm Sophos.

Via.Networks, a U.S.-Dutch Internet service provider and website hosting firm that manages websites for over 50,000 clients in America and Western Europe, also reported no incidences.

"None of our customers have called to report any problems. It's all quiet on the Western Front," said Joanne Hughes, a spokeswoman for Via Networks.

Hacking activities have been on the rise for years as the expertise behind compromising a website's vulnerable computer server is freely passed around the Internet in chat areas and is posted on websites dedicated to the activity.

Hack attacks range from outright defacement to flooding a server with data requests, knocking a site offline. In the former case, hackers replace the contents of a web page with their own message, often a political rant written in the signature style of broken English.

With hackers sending out challenges regularly, security officials expressed bewilderment that this contest received so much press attention, fearing it would only encourage more elaborate events in the future.

But others suggested the added media attention would remind individuals and organisations alike about the importance of maintaining the security of their computers.