NEWS

Russia: Hackers Target Religious Sites

By Matthew Harwood

While it's been heavily publicized that running afoul of the Russian government could make you a target for cyberattack, Russian hackers have victimized another population: religious groups.

According to the English-language daily The Moscow Times, relaying a report from the Russian-language daily Novya Izvestiya:

Because of the diversity of sites and the difficulties involved in determining why a site may have failed and in tracking down those responsible, there are no reliable statistics available on just how widespread this trend is. Consequently, the Novaya Izvestiya journalist describes some of the more high-profile examples of this phenomenon.

Pozdnyaev begins with the hacker attack on the official site of the Maykop and Adygei eparchate of the Russian Orthodox Church this past Sunday. For several hours, he reports, visitors to the site found a page that had nothing to do with religious affairs, though the eparchate’s technical staff was able to restore the site rather quickly ....

A much larger hacking scandal occurred during the controversy over now dethroned Bishop Diomid and his challenge to the Moscow Patriarchate. The “Orthodoxy in the Far East” portal that featured information on his case came under attack twice — once with those responsible posting pornographic pictures and another time with foul language.

The Novya Izvestiya's coverage of the hacks suggests that the hackers have taken sides in internal religious squabbles within their respective religious organizations. That said, some hacks have allegedly been the work of self-proclaimed atheists, such as “ Free Radical Society of Atheists of Bobruisk” or the “Atheist from Shenkursk.”

And while hack attacks against Christian Web sites has been a recent trend, The Moscow Times reports that Islamic Web sites have been under attack for the past decade. At the end of June, hackers had knocked offline two of the biggest Islamic news sites in Russia, Islam.ru and IslamNews.ru.

♦ Photo of Cathedral of Christ the Savior, the central cathedral for the Russian Orthodox Church, by Ivan_Makarov/Flickr

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