The website of independent Egyptian newspaper Youm el-Sabea and the Facebook page of Gamal Mubarak, the 47-year-old son of President Hosni Mubarak and anticipated presidential candidate, both came under attack today by as-yet-unknown computer hackers.
Youm el-Sabea, Egypt’s 17th most popular website according to Internet ratings company Alexa, appears to have been hacked by a Muslim hacker, or hackers, who posted a message on the website attributing the attack to “transgressions against the Muslim Prophet Muhammad and his family, companions and wives [which were] posted on Youm el-Sabea’s website.”
The message went on to note that the attack was primarily a response to a book by author Anis el-Degheidi–entitled, Muhakamet el-Nabi Muhammad, or “Trials of the Prophet Muhammad”–the contents of which allegedly defame the Prophet.
Youm el-Sabea quickly deleted the message, which also contained 100 questions and answers pertaining to Christian doctrine, from the website.
An editor at the online news provider told Al-Masry Al-Youm that Youm el-Sabea management had been “shocked” by the apparent act of e-jihad.
“We were surprised to find this lengthy message posted on our website by hackers,” the editor said on condition of anonymity. “We were attacked for supposedly having published excerpts of el-Degheidi’s controversial book pertaining to the Prophet Muhammad, but we never published any part of the book–not even a brief extract.”
The editor believes that a recent Friday sermon delivered by Salafist televangelist Mohamed Hassan on Al-Rahma satellite channel “may have misled the hacker or hackers into believing that Youm el-Sabea had published this book in its pages–or online–and thus may have prompted the attack.”
Within three hours of the incident, Youm el-Sabea’s website was back to business as usual, with the newspaper’s online contents–restored by a backup database–available to viewers.
Notably, on the same day, a Gamal Mubarak Facebook page was similarly hacked, albeit by more secular-minded perpetrators.
In place of the younger Mubarak’s original profile photo, a new picture appeared bearing a red “X” over Mubarak’s face. A message below the photo read, Gheir marghoub feek wala fi abouk, or, “We don’t want you or your father.”
Within the last six hours, the vandalized page has been viewed by more than 1,885 people. Previously, the page had only been viewed by some 1600 people.
According to software engineer Abdel Rahman Ghareeb, who has closely studied hacking techniques, the security system used to safeguard Youm el-Sabea’s website is an easy hack.
“Their security precautions are clearly weak,” he told Al-Masry Al-Youm. “Any kid who knows what he’s doing, any amateur hacker, could easily attack such a site.”
“Hackers are more prevalent in Egypt, and the hacker community in this country is the largest in the Arab world,” Ghareeb went on to point out. “The actions of a small handful of hackers could end up affecting an entire state or states.”