By Tomás Heneghan
The University of Limerick’s website was removed recently following a hack from an Algerian youth group.
During the afternoon of Sunday, 20 April the group responsible for the breach, El Moujahidin, replaced the homepage of the university’s website with a message and logo. The message began with: “Hacked by El Moujahidin.”
It continued: “Tell your gov, to know about Palestine. We will continue hacking the sites, to send a message of our Palestine and all Arabs. We don’t accept killing of Muslims everywhere [sic]. Stop killing US.”
A number of hash-tags were also attached to the page, including: “#Free Syria”; “#Free Palestine”; “#We Are El Moujahidin Team We Will Not End This War”; “#AttaCker fr0m”; and “#Algeria”. Links to the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages were also included in the message.
In an email to students that Sunday evening, a representative from the university’s IT department said the site had been removed as a result of the incident.
He explained: “The UL home page and some areas of the website are not available at the moment due to a security related incident with the external hosting company where certain portions of the UL website is housed.
“Some parts of the UL website including the main landing page are not available.”
He added: “A security breach occurred at the off site hosting company affecting parts of the UL website as well as sites from other organisations. There has been no security breach of any IT systems within the UL network.”
The email also informed students that they could continue to use certain online university services, including the library homepage, the student affairs page and the university’s student email accounts.
The IT department also said it recognised the disruption caused and thanked students for their patience.
In a statement on its Facebook page, the University of Limerick clarified that only one webpage had been affected and this was through the work of an “activist group.”
The statement said: “Only one single page was affected and only externally facing public content impacted. There has been no impact on any private or personal data.”
According to the statement the parts of the university’s website which were hosted by the hacked provider were removed until the altered parts could be restored.
It added: “UL technical staff have requested a full report from the hosting company on the nature of the incident and steps that will be taken to prevent future occurrences.”
In a further email to students the following Monday morning, ITD confirmed UL’s home page had been restored.
The group responsible for the UL hack, El Moujahidin, was recently linked to the hacking of the website of a UK based country pub. In early April the group was also involved in the hacking of Air France’s website.