The website of the international Russian news network Russia Today was hacked, and the unknown attackers replaced instances of the word ‘Russian’ and ‘military’ with ‘Nazi’ in headlines relating to the crisis in Ukraine, and the Kremlin’s decision to use military force in the Crimea.
The front page of the site was briefly filled with altered headlines such as, “Russian senators vote to use stabilizing Nazi forces on Ukrainian territory” and “Putin: Nazi citizens, troops threatened in Ukraine, need armed forces’ protection”, according to Softpedia’s report.
Minutes after the attack, which occurred at 11pm EST on Saturday according to Neowin’s report, the website began restoring the headlines to their original state one by one.
RT.com admitted the attack via its Twitter feed, saying, “RT website has been hacked, we are working to resolve the problem.”
Russia Today, which is autonomous, but funded via Russia’s federal budget, was attacked around 24 hours after Russia’s Parliament voted to allow the use of military force in the Ukraine. The multimedia organization, whose TV output is watched by 644 million people around the world, has been positive in its reporting of Russia’s response to the crisis, although President Putin’s decision has drawn criticism from the U.S. and the UN, according to Business Insider’s report.
RT updated their Twitter feed to admit that the unknown attackers had gained admin access, “Hackers deface http://RT.com website, crack admin access, place “Nazi” in every headline. Back to normal now.”
It’s not clear which group was behind the attacks, although the tactics mirror those of the Syrian Electronic Army, whose high-profile attacks against sites such as the New York Times, and recent failed attack on Facebook.com have been reported by We Live Security here.
Softpedia reports that ‘hacktivists’ from both anti-government and pro-govermnent groups have launched DDoS attacks against various sites ever since the ‘Euromaidan’ anti-government demonstrations began in Kiev last year.
No group has as yet claimed responsibility for this attack. In the wake of several high-profile ‘hacktivist’ attacks on Twitter accounts last year, Twitter provided media organizations with guidelines on how to resist such attacks, including designating specific PCs to access corporate accounts, saying “We believe that these attacks will continue, and that news and media organizations will continue to be high value targets to hackers.”
Attacks such as the defacement of the New York Times site were accomplished via phishing emails, used against third-party companies to obtain passwords and login details, as reported by We Live Security here. Russia Today has as yet not made clear what methods the attackers used to gain admin access.
Author Rob Waugh, We Live Security