Synagogue blog hacked by shady Muslim group is back online
Richard D’Loss is curious about the so-called Muslim group from Kosovo that hacked into the blog of his tiny synagogue, Ahavath Achim in Carnegie, over the holidays.
But he’s not losing sleep over it.
“I’d be curious to find out if there have been other Jewish organizations around the country that have been hacked by this group, said D’Loss, the president of the congregation and builder of the blog, known as thecarnegieshul.org.
Although, “to me, it’s just a vandalism kind of thing; it’s not really serious,” he added. “It was just a pain … to clean it up.”
The individual or group that hacked in, which calls itself the Kosova Security Group, did not manage to post anything to the blog, primarily because D’Loss had set it up so he must approve comments before they appear. But aside from the group’s emblem, which contains the Albanian national symbol of a two-headed eagle, and a link to a screen, which reads “Muslims for life!”, the emails contained nothing anti-Semitic, according to D’Loss.
He started to notice something was wrong on Dec. 26 when he began receiving junk email from the blog.
“I figured something wasn’t right because I have a couple plug-ins that are suppose to inhibit spamming and they were working fine,” D’Loss said, “but I figured it wasn’t really serious, so I backed-burnered it until the end of the holidays.”
Then, on the following Saturday at Shabbat services, Joel Roteman, the former executive editor of the Chronicle and a member of Ahavath Achim, told D’Loss that the blog was down. After Kiddush, he walked home and tried to log on himself.
“Sure enough, it was completely down,” D’Loss said. He contacted the customer service of his provider company and learned they had locked the blog because of “malicious activity” on it.
It took about six hours to clean up the blog and trash corrupted files, he estimated. Since then, he has added some new security measures.
He described The Carnegie Shul as a social blog for past and present members of the congregation. Political postings are rare and generate few comments. But entries about old times at the congregation generate lots of replies.
“Recently, someone asked a question about a [Ahavath Achim] rabbi in the ’60s and the thing lit up — ‘I remember this,’ and ‘I remember that,’ D’Loss said. “It’s a social thing.”
He also posts all the congregation’s yarhzeits on the blog as a service to its followers.
A web search by the Chronicle turned up several different kids of websites that were apparently hacked into by the Kosova Security Group.
D’Loss has no idea why the blog was targeted, but he can’t be certain that anti-Semitism was the motivation. In an entry he posted to the blog after it went live again, he wrote:
“Was the attack anti-Semitic? Apparently, yes, but not definitely. … One could conclude that they surf the net looking for Jewish websites to disrupt. But maybe they also do this to Christian sites as well.”
(Lee Chottiner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)