Google’s local Palestine domain was defaced by hacker-activists, with its homepage being replaced with a message calling for the removal of “Israel” from Google Maps and its being renamed “Palestine.”
Google.ps – which has since returned to its usual look – was reportedly suspended Tuesday following the attack.
Earlier, at the defaced website, renamed by hackers “Google Owned,” their statement was posted, reading: “uncle google we say hi from palestine to remember you that the country in google map not called israel. its called Palestine”. (Original spelling preserved.)
The hackers also posted a Google Map image that showed Israeli borders, the West Bank and Gaza, but does not outline Palestinian territory. It was not entirely clear why, given that Google had created a domain for Palestine in 2009.
The screenshot was accompanied with the following: “#Question : what would happens if we changed the country title of Isreal to Palestine in google maps !!! it would be revolution.”
“So Listen to rihanna and be cool :P,” concluded the hackers, who signed their statement as users Dod, Hij@ker, alzher, Mr_AnarShi-T, and toxico-dz.
Google officials said that their own servers were not hacked. Instead, Google’s Palestinian domain was hijacked, redirecting web-surfers to another Internet site.
“There was an issue with the DNS registry in Palestine. As a result, some users going to google.com.ps and a few other web addresses were redirected to a different website. This issue appears to be resolved,” Al Arabiya quoted Ramy Kandil, Google’s public relations executive in the Middle East and North Africa, as saying.
According to ZDNet, after the successful DNS hijacking attempt, the search engine’s home page was redirected to a Morocco-based server. The tech news outlet also stated that they checked the Palestinian top-level domain provider with the WHOIS service and it confirmed that Google.ps remained under the ownership of Google US in Mountain View, California.
In May, Google stirred controversy when it changed the regional search page name from “Palestinian Territories” to “Palestine.” The move was condemned by Israeli officials.
Last November, the UN General Assembly upgraded the status of its Palestinian mission to that of “non-member observer state.”