By RICARDO WELLS
Tribune Staff Reporter
BISHOP Simeon Hall yesterday urged the government to “exercise the highest seriousness” in its response to the recent hacking of two government websites.
Simeon Hall, of New Covenant Baptist Church, said the government should not “sleep on” the hacking, reportedly by Islamic group the “Fallaga Team”, in light of international issues surrounding Islamic extremism.
Two Ministry of Tourism websites, www.bahamas.com and www.bahamasfilm.com, were defaced on Wednesday, prompting a review of all government websites for possible breaches. Websites were reportedly safeguarded against potential vulnerabilities by implementing software patches.
“All over the world, countries are being threatened by Islamic groups in the name of God,” said Bishop Hall. He added that these groups have, on many occasions, executed persons that opposed their views.
Mr Hall called on “the peaceful, law-abiding Islamic local groups” to condemn the “subversive hacking of Bahamian websites”.
“One does not know the next step in this process, but what we do know is the nature of groups like this. We have to understand this as best we can,” he said.
Prime Minister Perry Christie said the incident posed enormous national security implications for the country when announcing the attack to parliamentarians last Wednesday.
The United States government on Sunday stepped in to assist Bahamian officials with the matter. US Embassy spokesperson Neda Brown said the cyber-attack undertaken by the Tunisian group was troubling because it targeted critical infrastructure, and represented a threat to the country’s national security and economy.
“We are troubled by all reports of cyber-attacks of this nature,” Ms Brown, the Acting Deputy Chief of Mission, said.
“Malicious cyber actors who target critical infrastructure are a threat to a country’s national security and economy. We take such threats very seriously and, as such, US law enforcement officials are assisting Bahamian law enforcement officials on this matter.
The Bahamas became the second Caribbean nation to be targeted by an Islamic hacking group this month.
An “Islamist rebel group” hacked the government website of St Vincent and the Grenadines earlier this month.
According to the Jamaica Observer, a message appearing on the website said that US and NATO Forces are involved in “organised butchery of human race since it’s (sic) inception. They overthrow governments of sovereign nations and they undermine, threaten, refuse to recognise and seek to destroy democratically elected governments like there are in Syria, Iraq, Gaza, Palestine,” the message said.
Bishop Hall added: “I hope this isn’t the start of something the Bahamas isn’t prepared for, the seriousness of this matter cannot be overlooked.”