posted on Mar, 24 2003 @ 08:43 PM
Key Arab news station knocked offline
13:47 24 March 03
NewScientist.com news service
The Arabic satellite television channel Al Jazeera, which on Sunday broadcast controversial footage of US soldiers captured by Iraqi forces, has
blamed computer hackers for crashing its online news service on Monday.
The station's web site, which carried still images of the footage, was inaccessible on Monday morning. A spokeswoman for Al Jazeera told New
Scientist: "We have a problem. I believe there are some hackers, some attack, but I don't know exactly."
The spokeswoman said an attack could have been prompted by the film broadcast by the station. The Iraqi military provided the footage of forced
interviews with five frightened-looking US prisoners of war, as well as images of the corpses of US soldiers.
The graphic pictures have caused outrage in the US and UK media. The US government accuses the Iraqi government of breaching the Geneva Convention on
the treatment of prisoners of war, and has pledged to pursue those responsible as war criminals.
A tactic frequently used by malicious hackers to bring down a web site is to bombard it with an avalanche of requests from multiple locations - a
so-called distributed denial of service (DDOS) attack. As of 1200 GMT, the site was intermittently accessible. For more than an hour, its homepage
automatically redirected visitors to a new main page further inside the site.
Phil Huggins, a freelance computer security expert in the UK, says the homepage redirection suggests the site was simply overwhelmed by visitors
searching for the controversial images.
If the site were under DDOS attack, "you wouldn't want to redirect those requests further into the site". He says it is also more common for DDOS
attacks to target the numerical IP address, rather than the domain name - www.aljazeera.net in this case.