Northern Ireland political party websites hacked by Irish language activist

Three websites of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) in Northern Ireland were recently hacked and translated into Irish.

The hack was carried out by an Irish language activist who goes by the name Hector O’Hackatdawn, a play on the name of a prominent Irish presenter, Hector Ó hEochagáin. The hacker took over the party’s main website and the websites of the party’s leading members, First Minister Peter Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson.

On Robinson’s website a message was posted, which said: “Is mise Peadar Robinson agus tugaim tacaiocht don Acht na Gaelige.” This is Irish for “I am Peter Robinson and I support an Irish Language Act.”

Irish is not officially recognised in Northern Ireland, where the official language is English, but there have been multiple attempts over the years to get this recognition. The proposed Irish Language Act was repeatedly vetoed by the DUP, stirring much hatred of the party among Nationalists and other supporters of the Irish language.

The DUP reported the incident to the police and the website has since been brought back online. This may not be the end of the attacks, however, as Hector said that he previously hacked the DUP website on New Years Eve using the same security hole, which he claims has not been fixed.

The hack follows attacks on the website of one of the largest parties in the Republic of Ireland, Fine Gael, earlier this week. That attack put up to 4,000 supporter details in the hands of Anonymous, the group behind attacks on PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and Amazon over their removal of services for Wikileaks.

This latest attack does not appear to be connected, but it does raise serious questions about the security features political parties are investing in for their websites.