Hackers calling themselves al-Rashedon, seemingly loyal to the Syrian regime, on Tuesday defaced Arabic news network Al-Jazeera’s English website.
The hackers targeted the site overnight, Al-Jazeera said, and replaced the homepage with a statement remarking the defacing was in protest against the TV network’s coverage of the Syrian conflict.
The attack that lasted for several hours had visitors to the site redirected to a webpage that had a Syrian flag and a statement declaring the TV station’s position on the Syrian conflict posted.
According to Al-jazeera, the statement on the redirected page said the cyber attack was in protest against TV station’s coverage of Syrian conflict. It read: “This is in response to your position against the people and government of Syria, especially your support of the armed terrorist groups and spreading false fabricated news.”
Al-Jazeera later issued a statement confirming the defacing was fast resolved and the site is in normal operation.
The statement further said the attack did not breech Al-Jazeera’s Web server directly except for the third-party service that distributes the station’s online content across the globe.
According to reports, Al-Jazeera has now been attacked for the third time since the Syrian conflict built up. In February, a group calling itself the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) defaced the site.
Back in July, SEA also gained access to Al-Jazeera’s Twitter account and started posting views condemning the opposition fighters.
Qatar-based al-Jazeera has covered the Syrian conflict extensively since it began.
The independent broadcaster owned by the state of Qatar initially started as an Arabic news current affairs satellite TV Channel and has since expanded into a network with several outlets.
Al-Jazeera is accessible in several parts of Africa especially in the Northern region. It was once voted as the world’s most influential brand behind Apple, Google, Ikea and Starbucks.
Last year, it was hailed for coverage of the 2011 Egyptian protests. The U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton also reckoned its news coverage as more informative, and less opinion-driven than American journalism.
Al-Jazeera claims at least 40-million viewers in the Arab world, including in Africa.
The hacking is the latest in a series of attacks against the site and other media firms. Just last month, pro-Syrian regime hackers targeted the Reuters news website.