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AnonGhost hacks, defaces UA website

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AnonGhost

Last weekend, around a dozen university websites were hacked by international hacktivist group AnonGhost.

In Nov. 2014, AnonGhost took control of the United Nations website in the wake of the Al-Aqsa mosque pressure. According to the International Business Times, the 15-person, pro-Palestinian group, founded by Mauritania Attacker, is based in Africa, the Middle East and Europe.

IBT noted that the group has also taken over several websites internationally, including the Shropshire Fire and Rescue website, the Nottinghamshire Police website and, last weekend, the UA Museum of Art.

“It’s never convenient to have your website go down,” said Gina Louise Competillo, the museum’s marketing manager.

AnonGhost’s invasion on the UAMA’s website is classified as web defacement. According to Christian Schreiber, university information security officer, it is an unsophisticated attack on a website, similar to painting graffiti on a building. Typically the websites are able to be attacked because the software is not up to date. This type of defacement is meant to attract attention and make a splash.

The group, not widely known until recently, is more focused on spreading a political message, than nabbing secure information.

“They want people to pay attention,” Schreiber said. UAMA’s website defacement was temporary and rectified by Monday morning, but not without the efforts of those in the computer world.

Cynthia Barlow, the information technology manager, principal, for the College of Fine Arts, noted that she went through the computer system in a way similar to a homeowner going through a house that has been broken into: cataloging what is damaged, fixing the broken or out-of-date software and changing the locks to patch the system up.

“Some people are always looking to do mischief,” Barlow said.

Speculators have associated the hacking group with Anonymous, an assumption that holds little water because of the groups’ differing ideologies.

According to Mic.com, Anonymous is a group that declares themselves the conveyor of Internet freedom. By scouring the Internet for websites and other groups to display the inner workings, Anonymous walks a fine line between helpful and devious, whereas AnonGhost focuses on gaining attention for less celebrated political causes.

Either way, both groups are causing damage to personal and public sites and forcing targets of interest that store information online to become creative in their security strategies.


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