The website of the social development department opened to a blank page, with a graphic announcing “Website hacked by H4ksniper”. A message announced: “Hello South Africa, Bad News For You IM BACK ! ..You Messed Wi[t]h Us & Now You Must Suffer..From Morocco with love.”
H4ksniper told HumanIPO that the hacking was as a result of the South African government’s support for the RASD, also known as the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic (SADR). This is a partially recognised state which controls a fifth of the Western Sahara but claims sovereignty over the entirety.
Morocco controls the rest, but South Africa considers the Western Sahara to be illegally occupied by Morocco.
H4ksniper said: “My reason is defending my country (Morocco) because SA is supporting the RASD and is an ennemu (sic) of Morocco”.
“We don’t have evil plans on our minds,” he said. “We are grey hackers and we’re defending our country and our religion!”
Grey-hat hacking means the disruption of websites for raising awareness of a certain issue, rather than for personal gain.
Social development spokeswoman Lumka Oliphant said the department was aware of the problem. The site was restored by early afternoon. She also added that the site contained no sensitive information that the hacker could have gained access to.
Sites belonging to the Presidential National Commission (PNC) and the National Population Unit were also hacked.
In a statement, State Information Technology Agency (Sita) CEO Khumbudzo Ntshavheni said that the sites had been 'defaced' rather than hacked.
“Sita is confident of its work and capacity to secure government information and this remains the bedrock of its operations,” she said.