Jihadi Hackers Penetrate Hundreds of French Websites

Education // Government (Foreign)

Self-described Islamists have defaced many French websites, following the terrorist attacks against satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, by replacing their homepages with jihadist propaganda.

The graffiti contains phrases like "There is no God but Allah", "Death to France" or Death to Charlie" written on a black background, often with the signature #OpFrance.

The sites - mainly those of city halls, schools, universities, churches and businesses - have been hacked by groups claiming to be Islamists from North Africa or Mauritania.

Users who tried logging on to the official government website of Lot in southwest France were redirected to a site broadcasting a fundamentalist speech. A Tunisian group calling itself "Fallaga Team" took credit for the incident.

The homepage of the Caen Memorial, a museum and war memorial in the northern town of Caen, displayed a message in Arabic and another in French which said "I confirm that there is only one God and that is Allah. I confirm that Mohammed is the messenger of Allah.”

This is the least dangerous form of "cyber-jihad” because the only consequence is the exhibition of an ideology, said Thierry Karsenti, European technical director at cybersecurity firm Checkpoint.

It’s technically fairly easy to take control of these sites since they were either poorly protected or not updated regularly enough.