Baidu Hacked by “Iranian Cyber Army”

China’s top search engine has been hacked Tuesday by alleged members of a pro-Iranian government group, according to state media.

The group which identifies itself as “Iranian Cyber Army” has replaced the immaculate white homepage of Baidu with a dark motif, map of the Middle East, blood-red text in English and Farsi and Iranian flag. The English text read “This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army” and the Farsi message was translated as “In reaction to the US authorities’ intervention in Iran’s internal affairs. This is a warning”.

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To me it remains a little mystery that if the message by the hackers was directed at the United States, why a Chinese property was the target of the intrusion. The attack was carried out by modifying records at Register.com, Baidu’s official domain registrar, said Jeremy Rossi, a partner in Praetorian Security Group, a New York City-based security consultancy.

The state-run China News Service quoted an unnamed official at Baidu as saying the website’s domain name had been hijacked, redirecting traffic to another site, but it is unclear whether those responsible were in fact Iranian.

“The Iranian Cyber Army” was also the name used by hackers responsible for briefly shutting down the popular microblogging site Twitter last month, using the same method similarly observed in this Baidu attempt.

Baidu is China’s biggest search engine which accounts 63.9 per cent of the market as of September, followed by Google’s 31.3 per cent, according to China Internet research firm Analysis International. With this big gap, I think the aim of those behind this incident was to get the attention of a wider audience, and sending the message across to more people. Thankfully, the incident only appeared to deface Baidu’s homepage with political message and did not exploit the opportunity to infect computers.

Recently, a string of Philippine government websites became targets of hacking attacks.