An Irish charity had a frightening experience yesterday when they found that their website had been hacked by members or supporters of the terror group ISIS.
Staff of Irish Autism Action were shocked when they were alerted that their website had been hacked, and the homepage was displaying a photograph of an armed soldier with his face covered above the words: ISLAMIC STATE HACKERS.
The small print beneath read: “Hacked By Moroccanwolf and ABdellah elmaghribi ~ Moroccan Attacker ~ I love IS”.
The rest of the website was still available through search engines, but the home page was out of use for around six hours.
It is unknown whether the hacking was some sort of stunt or prank or something more serious.
It was certainly unfortunate timing for the charity. They had hoped for an increase in traffic during the six hours that the site was down, as a Primetime show had been broadcast about the issues involved with autism and potential cures. It is likely that the programme would have provoked people’s interest and motivated them to learn more.
Kevin Whelan is the CEO of Irish Autism Action. He spoke to the Irish Independent about the day’s events: “Primetime had a show last night about people claiming they had cures for autism. So we’ve been very focused on dealing with our membership around that. It’s very alarming that this happened at the same time.”
He also said that staff were “relieved the issue had gotten resolved so quickly” and that the hack “appears to have happened to a number of sites” and that the charity itself had not been specifically targeted.
Online security experts have reassured users that any details held by the charity would not have been accessible to the hackers and they have nothing to be concerned about. Although the home page display had been altered, the hackers would not have found any personal data held by the charity about its members. Such details would not be held on the website but on secure internal charity databases.