Mass. Maritime Website Hacked by Islamic Extremist Group
Admiral Richard Gurnon, president of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy on Cape Cod, has a message for the group of “Islamic extremists” who took down their website’s homepage thinking that it was the U.S. Naval Academy’s: “You didn’t, this was a small public university in Massachusetts. Our students are in uniform but they’re not in the military. You targeted the wrong person.”
On Monday, a group that identifies itself as the “Moroccan Islamic Union-mail” took over the Maritime’s homepage with an image of a soldier’s grave and a message written in Arabic.
Someone who took screenshots of the homepage loosely interpreted the message into broken English using Google Translate. According to the translation, it read:
Iraq Cemetery. America, hello to you in death that awaits you at the hands of the Mjuahideen in Iraq. Signed by: Moroccan Islamic Union-mail.
The name of the group identified in the message posted a follow-up statement on their Facebook page, claiming responsibility for the hack:
The Moroccan Islamic Union-mail also posted a link to the cached version of the hack in the event that the Maritime Academy took down their redirect.
After identifying the breach, Gurnon said the school sent out a message to students letting them know what happened, but ensured that no information or records had been stolen due to the group’s access, and that only the homepage had been changed to redirect people to the their site.
“There was no threat to our population, nor any attempt to steal data, so we aren’t dealing with Russian cybercrime or a data breach or anything like that,” he said. “No one had access to student records or business records. It was just an attempt to hack the site.”
Gurnon said the school got the site back up and running Monday, but it was later attacked again by the same group that night. At this point, Gurnon said the school contacted the Department of Homeland Security as a precaution, before they shut down outside access to the homepage. Although difficult to verify, he believes the infiltration came from overseas.
“Yesterday evening they attacked the website and blew it up. They destroyed all the data on our homepage,” he said. “We shut down the website from outside, and repaired and replaced all the data on the homepage. Hopefully we will get it right this time. When we are comfortable, we will open the firewall. Meanwhile, 96 percent of students live on campus so they can navigate the website and get work done.”
Gurnon said he isn’t so much upset about the fact that the website was disrupted—twice—as he is that the group has gained attention for their cause due to the stunt.
“The more we engage in this, their views and their intent gets attention, and so does their website,” he said. “And guess what? It’s working.”
The Moroccan Islamic Union-mail, which Gurnon described as “young men in black T-shirts” with masks covering their faces, has claimed responsibility for a series of similar online attacks, including on sites run by the Italian government.