The Stack Archive

ISIS hacktivist targets top Chinese university website

Mon 18 Jan 2016

Chinese flag with ISIS militants

An individual or group claiming ties to the Islamic State has hacked into the internal network of the leading Chinese University Tsinghua, which is involved in research projects around defence and national security.

Late on Sunday, some of the university’s internal website pages, used by professors and students, were erased and instead displayed hooded men on horseback carrying the group’s black and white flag, and an audio message calling for holy war against Beijing.

A visual quote, often attributed to John Lennon, was also shown which read ‘Everything is okay in the end. If it’s not okay, then it’s not the end :$,’ according to the university’s campus newspaper Qingxin Times.

Reports have suggested that further Jihadi messages appeared on the pages, including ‘Allah is great. I don’t fear death. Sacrifice is my ultimate goal.’ The message was signed ‘Islamic State Hacker,’ and gave an email address with the Russian country code .ru.

The Beijing-based university is famed for its success in the field of IT, and particularly cybersecurity.

Screen Shot 2016-01-18 at 16.23.56“The website might have used a relatively weak password, which compromised its security. It is unlikely that Islamic State hackers had acquired the advanced technology to break Tsinghua’s firewall,” said a technician investigating the hack.

A member of the university’s computer management team confirmed the attack had taken place. They also reported that the website had been shut down in order to ‘prevent further spreading of the message.’

Other websites hosted on the Beijing university’s server, including its homepage, were unaffected.

If ISIS involvement is confirmed, this hack would be the first time that the militant group has targeted a Chinese website – as pressure builds on the communist government to join the global fight against ISIS. President Xi Jinping had recently vowed to crack down on terrorist operations: “China will strengthen cooperation with the international community, resolutely crack down on violent terrorist operations that devastate innocent lives and safeguard world peace and security.”

Last year, the terrorist organisation had listed China as one of the 18 states it considers as enemies.


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