“They’ve been doing it for the last 10 or so years, but they’re really starting to flood the zone in recent years.” “Political `hacktivists’ attack city websites in North Miami, Hillsboro Beach,” by Adam H. Beasley in the Miami Herald, January 19:
North Miami and Hillsboro Beach have had their official websites hacked into and derogatory messages posted on them — setting off a scramble to shore up security and determine who’s responsible.
Most days, North Miami’s website is the place to go for the city’s calendar of events, instructions on requesting a water bill and information on trash pickup.
But over the long holiday weekend, the municipality’s official site provided a far more sinister — and entirely unintended — message.
Anti-Israeli hackers sidestepped ineffective firewalls and redirected visitors to a jarring note:
“God d*** Murderer Israel and ABD [an Arabic slur meaning subordinate]. I am protesting the israel.I am near the PALESTINE people.”
The note, which was later taken down, was signed SLYHACKER.
Thirty-five miles to the north, Hillsboro Beach officials had a similar headache Tuesday morning, as they were forced to scrub cyber graffiti from their own site.
A pro-Iranian hacker had inserted a map of the Middle Eastern nation and its flag, as well as three words in bold type: MCSM IRAN HACKING.
It’s not clear if — and given the vast number of Internet troublemakers around the globe, it’s unlikely that — the two incidents were at all connected.
But there’s little doubt “hacktivism,” politically based cyber attacks by independent groups, are on the rise, and any city, town or borough with out-of-date security software is at risk.
“They’ve been doing it for the last 10 or so years, but they’re really starting to flood the zone in recent years,” said Alex Heid, a South Florida-based “ethical hacker” who provides cyber security best-practices to businesses and governments. “There is a large hacking community in North Africa and the Middle East.
“For the most part, they’re not really destructive or commit financial fraud,” Heid added. “They just look for ways to get their message out.”
And they look for easy targets. They found two in North Miami and Hillsboro Beach, which Heid said were open to mischief by even the most novice hacker.
For Hillsboro Beach, cleaning up its site was a daylong game of whack-a-mole. By early Tuesday afternoon, the flag was gone, but the website was defaced with writing in Arabic….