News & Politics

Trump Became the Latest Hacking Victim

AP Photo/Ben Gray

A Turkish “hacktivist” known as RootAyyildiz has altered former President Donald Trump’s website, replacing a section of text on a subdomain with an excerpt from a speech by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

CNN reports:

Visitors to a subdomain of Trump’s website were greeted Monday with a message from someone claiming to be a Turkish hacktivist. “Do not be like those who forgot Allah, so Allah made them forget themselves,” the message read. Below was a link to an Erdogan speech in which the Turkish president quoted from the Quran.

The same hacker appears to have hit then-President-Elect Biden’s site in November, shortly after the 2020 election, with a message in Turkish, a list of aliases, and an image of the Turkish flag.

This type of hacking, known as defacement, isn’t a terribly sophisticated form of hacking, and it doesn’t do any damage other than embarrassing the owner of the site. A defacement hacking pales by comparison to the types of hacks that compromise data or access more sensitive systems.

Trump and Biden aren’t alone as the victims of hackers. In fact, “hacktivism” is on the rise. Last month, the group Anonymous claimed responsibility for hacking the servers of Epik, a web host with a laundry list of clients on the right including the Proud Boys. Anonymous also leaked data from that hack.

Hacktivism began to enter the public eye about a decade ago when Anonymous started disrupting the work of various groups and candidates with their hacks. Law enforcement cracked down on hacktivists, and groups like Anonymous faded from view for a while.

But, like so much else, 2020 changed things, and hacktivism became a greater concern for authorities.

A March story from U.S News noted:

According to a U.S. counter-intelligence strategy released a year ago, “ideologically motivated entities such as hacktivists, leaktivists, and public disclosure organizations,” are now viewed as “significant threats,” alongside five countries, three terrorist groups, and “transnational criminal organizations.”

A bold new generation of hacktivists is lashing out against actors on both sides of the political aisle, and they seem to be less concerned about the consequences than their predecessors. They’re also more willing to expose the data of their targets.

At the end of the day, RootAyyildiz didn’t do much damage to Trump’s website; rather, much like his hack on Biden’s site last year, he seemed to be more concerned with making a point. However, more nefarious hacktivists are out there, and what they can do is pretty frightening.