Updates at bottom of story
The infamous group of hackers that supports embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has apparently taken control of Qatar’s .QA domain name and shut down numerous high-profile websites.
Starting at about 1.54am local time, the Syrian Electronic Army shared this message on Twitter:
Qatar is #down
— SyrianElectronicArmy (@Official_SEA16) October 18, 2013
Following that, they went about switching off government and private websites using the .QA extension, including Ministry of Interior, the Supreme Education Council, the Emiri Diwan, and even Google.com.qa:
The domains are managed by Qatar’s Ministry of Information and Communication (ictQatar). Apparently, the Syrian Electronic Army gained access to ictQatar’s Domains.qa registrar and was able to shutdown everything from there.
At 9:30am on Saturday, none of the websites they’ve listed have resumed functioning normally yet, although instead of showing the smiling face of Syria’s president, visitors to the sites now see a “CPU Limit Reached” error.
Typically, companies are able to regain control of their websites a few hours after such attacks.
The Syrian Electronic Army has repeatedly targeted Qatar because of its support of rebels inside Syria and calls for President Al-Assad to resign.
In April of this year, they hacked FIFA’s Twitter accounts and used them to accuse Qatar of buying the 2022 World Cup. The month before, SEA hackers took over Qatar Foundation’s social media accounts and last year also hacked Al Jazeera.
Oct. 19 | 11:33am:
Others, including the Supreme Education Council, Google and Facebook’s local sites, and the government e-services site Hukoomi are still offline.
Oct. 19 | 12:10pm:
Google.com.qa is working again, too. Not everyone is able to access all of the sites though, as it can take time to get the updated Domain Name System (DNS) data onto all servers.
Oct. 19 | 3:29pm:
Most, if not all, of the websites that were taken down by the SEA appear to be back online now. Are there any websites you’re not able to access?
Have you been affected?