Al Jazeera faces continued hacker attacks
WASHINGTON: A hacker attack sidelined the Web site of Arab satellite TV network al-Jazeera on Thursday, as cyber-vandals replaced the news site with a stars-and-stripes logo saying “Let Freedom Ring.”
Though the Qatar-based network regained control a few hours after the attack was launched, experts said both the Arabic site, at (http://www.aljazeera.net), and the English-language version at (http://english.aljazeera.net) would probably not be reachable for roughly 24 hours. The site has suffered constant cyber attacks since an English language version devoted to the war in Iraq was launched Monday.
Users who tried to log onto the site before noon EST on Thursday found a message that read “Hacked by Patriot, Freedom Cyber Force Militia” beneath a logo containing the U.S. flag.
Visitors later found a message saying “This page has been taken over by Saimoon Bhuiyan” and advising that the page was under construction. Al-Jazeera information technology manager Salah Al Seddiqui said someone had hijacked the domain name and redirected it to another server computer. “Our Web site is working but nobody can see it,” Al Seddiqui said.
The hacker was able to gain control of the domain name by asking domain seller Network Solutions Inc. for the account password on official al-Jazeera stationery, said an industry source speaking on condition of anonymity.
Blitzed with meaningless data: A spokesman for Network Solutions’ parent company declined to comment on how the hacker was able to hijack the domain name, but said the company had fixed the problem and was trying to track the impostor down. “We followed our procedures, in this particular instance someone was able to get around those procedures,” said Brian O’Shaughnessy, a spokesman for Internet security firm VeriSign Inc .
Starting on Monday, hackers blitzed the site with meaningless data in an effort to squeeze out legitimate traffic and render the site inaccessible, a technique known as a “denial of service” attack.
That attack eased at around 3 am London time on Thursday, Al Seddiqui said, but the domain name was hijacked shortly after and pointed to a free hosting service run by a Washington State domain-name seller.Managers at Vancouver, Washington-based Dotster Inc. took down the page after they noticed an abnormal spike in traffic and pointed visitors back to the original site, Dotster Vice President George Decarlo said. The al-Jazeera Web site should be working normally within 24 hours, O’Shaughnessy and Decarlo said.
Al-Jazeera also has had to search for a new home for the site after US-based DataPipe said it would not be able to host it after the end of the month. Al Seddiqui said the company had moved its servers to a data center in France.
Security expert Richard M. Smith said the hijacker should be easy to track down. “It should be easy to do some of the forensics here,” Smith said. “They had to leave a lot of traces in the sand.” —Reuters
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