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Key Arab News Station Knocked Offline (Al Jazeera)

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posted on Mar, 24 2003 @ 08:43 PM

Key Arab news station knocked offline

13:47 24 March 03 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.

Homepage redirect

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 - in this case.

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