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February 5th, 2011 Advertising Section Compromised After Hackers Insert Rogue Content

Al Jazeera claims that hackers have managed to introduce rogue content into a portion on its Arabic website destined for ads, in order to discredit the objectivity of its Egyptian protest coverage.

“Hackers managed to compromise the advertising section of the site in order to distort the network’s coverage of the current events in Egypt,” Al Jazeera announced yesterday. [approximate translation from Arabic]

The rogue message was displayed as an ad at the top of the home page for a limited period of time and read “Together to overthrow Egypt.”

Al Jazeera is one of the news networks with the most extended live coverage of the turmoil in Egypt, even after the government rescinded its license and closed down its office in Cairo.

The network’s reporters and corespondents have risked their personal safety by staying among pro-democracy demonstrators even during violent clashes with government loyalists.

Egyptian officials are not happy with the network showing the large number of anti-government protesters and have accused it of being biased in its reporting.

Meanwhile, the state television continues to downplay the amplitude of the demonstrations and misreport the number of victims.

In light of all this confusion it’s very important for Al Jazeera to remain impartial in the eyes of the public, especially the one in the Arab world.

The network’s IT support staff noted that several attempts to hack into the site’s database have been successfully blocked during the past several days.

The attempts originated in Israel, Morocco and Portugal, although this is not evidence that the attackers are actually located in those countries.

The site is the network’s only means to reach the Egyptian public, because Al Jazeera is currently banned from broadcasting over satellite in the country. Web traffic has reportedly increased by 2,500% since the protests started.

Fortunately, this attack only had a political motivation and did not try to infect visitors with malware as we’ve seen in many other cases of malvertizing.

Credit: News

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