An Iranian group claimed responsibility for the hack that temporarily defaced the main pages of Voice of America and several of its affiliated Websites.
An Iranian group operating
under the name the Iranian Cyber Army hacked the Websites of the Voice of
America and several of its affiliates to display a banner that said, "We have
proven that we can."
The attack was first noticed
on Twitter by @PiratesWeek on Feb. 21 and confirmed by Voice
a day later. The group temporarily defaced the sites with an
image of an Iranian flag, an AK-47 assault weapon and a message written in
broken English for United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
"Mrs. Clinton, Do you
want to hear the voice of the oppressed nations? The Islamic nations would no
more be tricked by the U.S., and we want you to stop interfering in the Islamic
countries," the attackers wrote.
The hackers did not
penetrate any of the computer networks, but compromised an outside system that
contained the domain name server, according to VOA executives. With the DNS (Domain
Name System) server under their control, the hackers were able to redirect all
traffic away from VOA's actual pages to the hackers' page, the news agency
domain, along with numerous related domains registered with Network Solutions,
were hacked by an unknown party," said Rebecca McMenamin, director of the
office of new media within the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which operates
It's not clear exactly what happened.
Network Solutions said the attack did not breach its systems or services, and
no data was lost. The hackers controlled the DNS for about eight hours before
the agency resumed control. The company declined to provide details on how the
DNS was changed.
According to PBS.org's
, the Cyber Army appears to have attacked 94 other VOA
affiliate sites in addition to the main site. The hackers' message appeared on
VOA's English, Somali, Albanian, Persian, Azeri, Dari, Pashtun and Urdu
language sites. While this was the group's first major attack in 2011, the
Cyber Army had previously hacked Twitter
search engine Baidu
Iran's state-run IRNA news
agency implied the Cyber Army was carried out by Iran's Islamic Revolutionary
Guards, and Iran's semi-official state news agency, Fars
the attack, saying that the Voice of America was the "media arm of the U.S. spy
agencies" and that it was in retaliation for VOA's "false reports" on the
"spread and progress of seditious moves in Iran."
Following the wave of
demonstrations that have rocked the Middle East and North Africa in recent
weeks, Iranian government officials have said the United States needed to stop
"interfering" in the region, according to the Tehran Bureau. The Iranian
government has clamped down internally in recent weeks, but there have still
been a number of anti-government demonstrations in Tehran and other parts of
the country within the past few days.
In a turnabout, Iranian
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has condemned the killings of protesters in
Libya, calling the government's actions there "unimaginable."
The Voice of America
operates a global network of news and information outlets that reflect official
U.S. foreign policy. The Broadcasting Board of Governors, a federal agency,