Page last updated at 10:23 GMT, Tuesday, 12 January 2010

Baidu hacked by 'Iranian cyber army'

Hacked Baidu site
Visitors to the site were greeted with this message

China's most popular search engine, Baidu, has been targeted by the same hackers that took Twitter offline in December, according to reports.

A group claiming to be the Iranian Cyber Army redirected Baidu users to a site displaying a political message.

The site was down for at least four hours on Tuesday, Chinese media said.

Last year's attack on micro-blogging service Twitter had the same hallmarks, sending users to a page with an Iranian flag and message in Farsi.

"This morning, Baidu's domain name registration in the United States was tampered with, leading to inaccessibility," Baidu said in a statement.

Visitors to the site were greeted with the message: "This site has been hacked by Iranian Cyber Army".

The message was accompanied by a picture of the national flag of Iran.

"In China, Baidu outranks Google as the search engine of choice, receiving millions of visits every day. That makes it an extremely attractive target for cybercriminals," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos.

Political graffiti

It is not yet clear whether the site itself was compromised or its so-called DNS records.

DNS records are like a telephone book, converting website names like into a sequence of numbers understandable by the internet.

"It's possible someone changed the lookup, meaning whenever surfers entered into their browsers they were instead taken to a website that wasn't under the search engine's control," explained Mr Cluley.

It seems as if the hackers used the attack as an opportunity to create political graffiti rather than inflict real damage.

"If that third party website had contained malware then millions of computers could have been infected and identities stolen," said Mr Cluley.

"Attacks like this are a reminder to everyone that you always need to have security scanning every webpage you visit, even if it's a well-known legitimate website," he added.

Print Sponsor

'Iranian cyber army' hits Twitter
18 Dec 09 |  Technology
Online activism gets tactical
17 Dec 09 |  Technology
Looking to the future of Le Web
11 Dec 09 |  Technology
Google launches real-time search
08 Dec 09 |  Technology
Hackers hit Twitter and Facebook
06 Aug 09 |  Technology
Twitter calls lawyer over hacking
16 Jul 09 |  Technology
Web 'threatens' public services
27 Nov 09 |  Technology
Twitter to charge for new services
20 Nov 09 |  Technology
Real-time search rivalry heats up
22 Oct 09 |  Technology

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Has China's housing bubble burst?
How the world's oldest clove tree defied an empire
Why Royal Ballet principal Sergei Polunin quit


Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific