Saanich, B.C. church website hacked with pro-ISIS message
Published Sunday, March 8, 2015 6:18PM PDT
Last Updated Sunday, March 8, 2015 6:20PM PDT
Members of a Pentecostal church in Saanich, B.C. were shocked to wake up this weekend to find someone had hacked their website in support of the radical Islamic State terror group.
Abe Kudra, a pastor at the North Douglas Pentecostal Church, said he logged on to the website where he regularly maintains a blog when he saw the pro-ISIS display.
“It was then I saw the ISIS flag and a few notations and someone speaking to me in the Arabic language,” Kudra said. “I was shocked, first of all, and I thought ‘What on Earth is going on here?’”
He said below the flag, a message read “Hacked by Islamic State. We are everywhere.”
Another pastor contacted the website’s host, who took it offline, while Kudra contacted a B.C. member of parliament to pass on the incident to Ottawa.
“I don’t think there’s any danger,” said pastor Rod Fair. “I think somebody did this for attention’s sake and that’s all there is to it. It’s been done in other places, therefore I wasn’t really concerned about it being an actual physical threat.”
It’s the latest in a series of similar attacks on websites across North America, ranging from a California Zoo to a Barrie, Ontario church and even a New Brunswick student union.
The websites all appear to have nothing in common, except perhaps their weaknesses, according to a local cyber security expert.
Dale Jackaman said the websites’ security flaws are likely “low-hanging fruit” for hackers using an automated attack called an iFrame exploit.
“All these websites, from the looks of it, have been targeted with just simple scripts that scan across the internet looking for those security holes. Then it plunks in whatever it is they want to plug in there in terms of the messaging,” he said. “I’m sure there are thousands and thousands of these websites that have been hit.”
Jackaman said any website that updates its security software regularly should be protected against hackers.
There’s no word on whether the attack came directly from ISIS, but Jackaman said with some time, it could likely be traced back to whoever perpetrated it.
Meanwhile, the pastors and members of North Douglas Church say they’re not afraid for their safety after the hack.
“Their intent is to instill fear, so if they can instill fear, then they’re doing what they want to do,” Fair said. “However, that’s certainly not the way we as Christians operate in the world.”
ISIS routinely uses propaganda, including videos of beheading Westerners, to get their message out.
The government has not confirmed whether any of the website attacks are directly connected to the terrorist organization.
With a report from CTV Vancouver’s Jon Woodward