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Bristol travel site hack mystery

05 January, 2015
Hackers claiming to be Islamic chooses simple sites in campaign supported by social media

The website was taken down by a group called the "Arab Security Team" claiming to be from Tunisia and targeting easy sites such as blogs, information sites and specialist interest outlets in the UK primarily.

TravelWest provides bus timetable information for the Bristol area as well as other facts about transport options in the area. The impact of the hack amounted to little more than inconvenience to regular users of the site and was soon restored at the end of last week. However, as of Monday morning, the site was once again unavailable.

The authenticity, intent and seriousness of the Arab Security Team is still unknown and the group could amount to little more than an irritant or these low level hacks could be the precursor for more malicious activity. The group has its own Facebook page where it regularly posts its latest activities, which would indicate that publicity is the initial aim of the group's efforts.

Regardless of the seemingly trivial nature of the hackers' activities, it nonetheless serves as a warning to website owners who don't feel that they are a likely target to tighten up on security and to make sure their sites are backed up regularly and they have the ability to restore them at short notice.

Commenting on the TravelWest hack, Darren Anstee, Director of Solutions Architects at Arbor Networks told us: "This hack highlights that it’s not just large organisations that need to be cyber secure. Anyone can become a target of a cyber-attack, no matter how unusual the reason may be!  It’s a good reminder that organisations of all sizes need to be vigilant and ensure they have the right security in place to deal with hackers in 2015."

Jonathan Newell is a broadcast and technical journalist specialising in security systems and transport safety. He contributes to a range of titles in the technical press. He shares his time between the UK and Kazakhstan


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