The world is not wanting in conflicts, either on the ground or online. A Web war is at present raging between Sweden and Turkey, said to be precipitated by another caricature of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.
More than 5,000 Swedish Web sites have been defaced by Turkish hackers since early October, according to the International Herald Tribune. Files were removed from the sites, which are mostly related to hotels, while some were replaced by messages posted by the hackers.
Here’s a screenshot of a hacked Swedish site:
And a screenshot of another Web page that may be related to the group that defaced the Swedish sites:
Although the link is not clearly established, the said defacement is believed to come in the wake of the publication of an editorial “moodog” cartoon, which showed the holy prophet’s head attached to a dog’s body. Indeed, some of the sites saw messages saying that the prophet had been violated. The said drawing was done by Lars Vilks and published in the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda on August 19. Vilks has since received a sizeable bounty on his head from an Iraqi insurgent leader.
Sweden’s own hackers retaliated by putting up pornographic images in which the prophet and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, founder and first President of the Turkish Republic, appear. The said images came out in a Turkish discussion forum whose members allegedly hacked the Swedish sites. Moreover, the Swedes stole the members’ user names, passwords, and homepages, along with their Hotmail and MSN instant messenger accounts. They also spammed out ugly, damaging messages to the Turkish account owners’ contacts.
Trend Micro Senior Threat Researcher Ivan Macalintal cites inside accounts in saying that “this incident did not involve any of the usual malware activity that we usually find in Web threats. This was (more) like a socio-political and religious Web warfare between hacker groups in Turkey and Sweden.”
It can be recalled that in 2005, a similar uproar was heard throughout the globe, caused by another of the prophet’s caricatures published in a Danish newspaper. This time around, the Web was the go-to platform for the Muslim protests, which were aired via hacking that was only met with more sophisticated hacking—a case of fighting fire with fire. It proves nothing but that the innocent—online users or not—always get caught in the crossfire.