A hacker group calling itself “Cyber Caliphate” has attacked the website of Malaysian airlines (www.malaysiaairlines.com) and defaced it. The website’s browser window read “ISIS WILL PREVAIL” and its home page was defaced to read “404—Plane Not Found”, “Hacked by Cyber Caliphate” and “Greetz to Lizard Squad, UGNazi, NATHAN NYE and HENRY BLAIR STRATER”. The hack attack also incapacitated the online ticket booking system and several other online services offered by the airline. Lizard Squad and UGNazi are well-known hacker groups.
At the time of this writing, the website is still defaced but the deface page has been changed to one claiming that the site has been hacked by Lizard Squad – Official Cyber Caliphate.
The 404—Plane Not Found is a play on the HTTP 404 error. HTTP 404 error is a standard response that indicates that the client’s web browser was able to communicate with the website’s server but the server could not find the requested query. The hackers were probably making fun of recent incidents where Malaysian airlines lost communications with some of their airplanes during their flights.
Malaysian airlines has recently suffered a sequence of high profile losses including the loss of Flight 17 which was downed near the Eastern Ukrainian town of Donetsk and Flight 370 which disappeared during its flight over the Southern Indian Ocean. More than 500 people lost their lives in these two incidents. The cyber intrusion just adds to the woes facing company as it struggles to recover from its financial and reputational losses.
In a rejoinder, the company stated that its web servers and data were secure, and that the hackers breached its website’s security by compromising its DNS (domain naming system).
Recently, hackers claiming allegiance to the Islamic State terror group took control of the primary twitter and YouTube accounts of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), and posted several military documents and the official phone numbers of some high-ranking military officers.
The recent spate of high-profile hacking demonstrates the capabilities of hackers to disrupt the smooth operations of critical infrastructures such as air transport and communication, and their potency to disclose confidential national data thus compromising national security. It is prudent for governments and key private sectors to join hands and avert such incidences of cyber intrusion.