The website for the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) was taken down and replaced with multiple pro-Iranian images and messages, including a picture of Iran’s supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei with a backdrop of the Iranian flag, along with a photoshopped image of U.S. President Donald Trump getting punched in the mouth by a fist that appears to be attached to the uniform on an Iranian commander.
The cyberattack is presumably in response to the targeted U.S. airstrike that killed the top-ranking Iranian general, Qassem Soleimani.
Several messages were left behind by the hackers, including a post that read:
“Martyrdom was (Suleimani’s)… reward for years of implacable efforts. With his departure and with God’s power, his work and path will not cease and severe revenge awaits those criminals who have tainted their filthy hands with his blood and blood of the other martyrs.”
Furthermore, the title page of the website was changed to read “Iranian Hackers.”
Gary Somerset, the chief public relations officer for the U.S. Government Publishing Office confirmed the cyberattack with CNN on Saturday night.
“An intrusion was detected on GPO’s FDLP website, which has been taken down. GPO’s other sites are fully operational. We are coordinating with the appropriate authorities to investigate further,” Somerset said.
Sara Sendek, a spokesperson for the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, said that although the hackers claimed to be Iranian, a full investigation will be taking place to explore every possible angle.
“At this time, there is no confirmation that this was the action of Iranian state-sponsored actors. The website was taken off line and is no longer accessible. CISA is monitoring the situation with FDLP and our federal partners,” Sendek said.
The FDLP, the agency that was targeted in the attack, was likely at the bottom of a long list of government websites that were selected by the hackers and not the initial target. Most people don’t even know about the agency, and it is not connected to the military or known to be responsible for any sensitive or classified information.
In fact, the very purpose of the agency is to make U.S. federal government publications available to the public for free, so any of the agency’s records would already be available to the public, and would not have any impact on the current situation in Iran. The records handled by this agency mostly include bills, statutes, and court opinions.
A senior U.S. official involved in cybersecurity matters told CBS News that the hack was “a nothing event” in which only a “small, under-resourced agency” was affected.
“A defacement is small-time stakes,” the official said.
However, a bulletin that was posted on Twitter by multiple U.S. officials connected with the DHS, suggested that “Iran maintains a robust cyber program and can execute cyber attacks against the United States. Iran is capable, at a minimum, of carrying out attacks with temporary disruptive effects against critical infrastructure in the United States.”
The new @DHSgov NTAS Bulletin on the threat landscape was issued to inform & reassure the American public, state/local governments & private partners that DHS is actively monitoring & preparing for any specific, credible threat, should one arise. pic.twitter.com/iNnHU1TI9A
— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) January 4, 2020
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