Hackers Hijack Google Palestine Site With anti-Israel Message

Google says servers not hacked; instead surfers redirected to site that reminds 'Uncle Google' that the country shown on Google Maps is Palestine, not Israel.

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Pro-Palestinian hackers on Monday hijacked the Google Palestine domain (google.ps), redirecting Web users to a hacked version of the page that called for removing Israel from Google Maps and renaming it Palestine.

Google officials said their servers were not hacked. Instead it appears the hackers managed to break into the domain name registry for Palestine -- a database in which domains (web addresses such as google.ps) are converted to the unique IP addresses where the domain is located. The hackers changed the IP address to which google.ps directs users, sending users to a different website showing what appeared to be a hacked version of Google’s homepage. That site featured the hackers’ apparent protest against the use of the word “Israel” on Google Maps.

At the top of the defaced site the words “Google Owned” were written, underneath which the hackers’ message appeared: “uncle google we say hi from palestine to remember you that the country in google map not called israel. its called Palestine .. # Question: what would happens if we changed the country title of Isreal [sic] to Palestine in google maps !!! it would be revolution So listen to rihanna and be cool :P”

The hackers signed off as Dod, Hij@ker, alzher, Mr_AnarShi-T and toxico-dz.

Hacking Web domains, which is similar to spray-painting graffiti on walls in public places, happens all the time. In most cases, such acts of hacking are generally innocuous unless the hackers exploit security flaws to infect surfers’ computers with viruses or engage in “phishing” — scams to collect usernames and passwords. The Google.ps site is back to normal, but several tech sites have pointed out that what makes this case unique is the target: Internet giant Google.

“For a short period, some users visiting google.ps were redirected to a different website,” a Google spokesman told Haaretz. “Google services for the google.ps domain were not hacked. We’ve been in contact with the organization responsible for managing this domain name and the issue should be resolved.”

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has already played out on Google previously, when the company upgraded the Palestinian Authority’s status on Google Maps: the name of the PA territory was changed from “the Palestinian territories” to “Palestine” -- a move that drew an official protest from Israeli officials.

Two months ago, the Knesset’s Science and Technology Committee held a discussion on the topic in the presence of Charlie Hale, Google’s official in charge of public policy and government relations, who came especially from Google’s headquarters in California. Hale laid out Google’s official position, under which the selection of geopolitical names is based on decisions by organizations such as the United Nations, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers and the International Organization for Standardization.

“We have no interest in being the arbiter of political disputes,” Hale said during the meeting. “I want to make it absolutely clear that in making these decisions we are in no way taking a political stance.”

Palestinian homepage of Google's search engine reading 'Palestine' at internet cafe in East Jerusalem.Credit: AFP
Hacked Google Palestine site.Credit: Screen shot

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