Hackers shut down ODU student newspaper’s website

Screen shot of http://www.maceandcrown.com/, taken Monday, May 18, 2015.
Screen shot of http://www.maceandcrown.com/, taken Monday, May 18, 2015.

NORFOLK, Va. (WAVY) — The website for a newspaper run by Old Dominion University students was hacked Sunday by a self-proclaimed Muslim group.

The newspaper, Mace & Crown, confirmed the hacking Monday evening. In a statement, Editor-in-Chief Sean Davis said Mace & Crown staff were first alerted to the hacking Sunday and have since been working with their hosting provider, Godaddy, and ODU to regain control of the website.

Until about 6:45 p.m. Monday, the newspaper’s website was replaced by a red emblem and a message in red and gray text atop a black background. The text claimed the website was hacked by a group calling itself “El Moujahidin Team.”

The message stated the group would continue hacking websites to draw attention to “the message of our Palestine and all Arabs.” It also stated, “We Dont Accept Killing Muslims Evry Where, Stop Killing US.”

El Moujahidin tweetThe text seemed to indicate the hackers were located in Algeria, and used the hashtag “#Free Hamza BendelladJ” to reference an Algerian national extradited to the U.S. in 2013 for federal cyber crime charges.

Beneath the text were links to the group’s Facebook and Twitter pages. A tweet posted by the group Thursday morning stated “El Moujahidin with ISIS.”

ISIS, stands for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a radical Islamic militant group that has seized large swaths of territory in Iraq and Syria. It’s advance — marked by mass killings and beheadings — has sparked outage across the world and prompted U.S. military intervention.

Despite the Mace & Crown being independently run and hosted, a university spokeswoman said ODU’s IT staff was reaching out to the newspaper to help.

Davis said the hackers’ image was removed from www.maceandcrown.com by Godaddy Monday evening. It remains unclear when the website will be operational again.

Davis also said the publication would work with law enforcement, if there was interest in an investigation.

Similar hackings occurred with Isle of Wight County’s website in January and with Greenbrier Christian Academy’s website in March. Colonial Williamsburg’s website was also hacked in March, by a group claiming to be pro-ISIS.