Health dept probes hack

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Any hack of a government Web site is considered to be a national security issue.
Any hack of a government Web site is considered to be a national security issue.

The Department of Health is investigating a hack on its Web page that left the site temporarily unavailable at the weekend.

Departmental spokesperson Popo Maja says the site was infiltrated on Sunday, but was back up on Monday. He says the department is looking into what happened and has also referred the breach to the police and National Intelligence Agency (NIA).

Maja explains that any attack on a government Web site is considered to be a breach of national security, and must be reported to the NIA. He adds the department has yet to have a case number from the South African Police Service.

No party has claimed responsibility, and the department is trying to trace the culprits and determine how the site was breached, says Maja. He adds security on the portal will "definitely" be improved.

Sahara rage

ITWeb accessed a cached page of the hack, which dates back to Sunday. The cache shows the hack was perpetrated by "Moroccan Agent Secret", which is the same group responsible for infiltrating more than 200 sites last year, according to E Hacking News.

The group seems to be fanatical and angry over the US siding with Israel, according to posts on previously defaced sites. None of last year's hacks involved government Web sites.

Some of its hacks warn other countries to stay out of the Sahara, as it claims the land belongs to Morocco. It is not clear from the cached page why it specifically targeted the health department.

The replaced home page shows the group's logo, a photograph, and text that reads: "Site Hacked par Moroccan Agent Secret = "Nous, Marocains nous d'efendons notre pays contre (Les Islamophobes) + (Les T'erroristes du polisario) + (Les Racistes) + (Les Ath'es) + (Les corrompus) et tous ceux qui veulent nous diviser" : (Notre devise) = Dieu, La Patrie, Le Roi [sic]."

The English text reads: "Web site Hacked by Moroccan Secret Agent = "We Moroccans we defend our country against (Islamophobes) + (Polisario terrorists) + (the racists) + (The Atheists) + (the corrupt) and all those who want to divide us" (our belief) = God, Homeland, King [sic]."

Copy cat

The latest attack follows one last year in which the department's database was breached by a Tunisian grey hat hacker, with the nickname "Human Mind Cracker", according to E Hacking News.

The site quotes him as saying, via e-mail: "The only reason about this hack that i love challenge and I readed a lot about the Moroccan hacker that break into some south Africa website so I just wanted to pentest their security [sic]."

No information was stolen or compromised, even though the site was unavailable for a short period, says Maja. He notes the data is, in any event, not sensitive as it is public information.

Although there is no timeline for the investigation, Maja says a full report will likely be released when the department has an outcome. He was not available this morning to comment on the cached page showing which group was responsible for the hack.

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