China’s Top University Website Hacked by Pro-ISIS Hacker

A hacker who claims to be the ally of the ISIS terrorist group managed to hack the official website of Tsinghua University, China’s one of the most high-profile universities.

The hacker left a deface page containing Arabic language verses from Islamic scripture accompanied by Arabic music.

The website (tsinghua.edu.cn) otherwise displays links to departmental information and links to class resources. However, after being hacked it displayed IS propaganda content and also showed a picture of four hooded fighters carrying the IS flags while riding on horseback.

The website’s screenshots depict that at the time of the hack, the intruder exposed his identity as an “Islamist State Hacker.”

The hacker also posted a phrase underneath the IS jihadists picture that read,

“Everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end.”

As far as the Arabic message is concerned, it was translated as saying:

“God is great, I am unafraid of death, dying a martyr’s death is my ultimate goal.”

Deface page uploaded by the hacker
Deface page uploaded by the hacker

The University’s newspaper announced the breach and the initial investigation report was re-posted by the state-run media. Surprisingly, the original post in the newspaper got deleted afterwards, according to South China Morning Post.

However, the university’s security maintenance department declined to confirm the breach but the server of the website was quickly shut down on Sunday evening when it was identified.

This is not the first time when Tsinghua University had its domain hacked. The website was hacked four times in 2003 by different defacers. The zone-h mirror as a proof of hack is available here.

Why would pro-ISIS hackers attack Chinese sites?

The fact cannot be ignored that the western region of Xinjiang, China is mostly inhabited by the Muslim Uighur minority and the government is often accused of adopting a biased approach towards this community. The community is undergoing serious sporadic violence with the Communist party over the apparent linkage of its separatist religious extremists with the militant organization overseas.

Critics often accuse Beijing of discriminating against the community’s religion and culture. On the other hand, government-controlled media has claimed that Uighurs might be leaving the country to join the Islamic State.

Mainland China controls some of the strictest and tightest online controls in the entire world and whichever content is deemed to be inappropriate, sensitive or against the government, is immediately blocked.

Agan Uzunovic

Agan Uzunovic is a Bosnian journalist who is working for the country's largest newspaper. He has a keen interest in reporting on activism and hacktivism. He is also a contributor at U.S based Revolution News media. Agan reports and writes for HackRead on IT security related topics.