Malaysia Airlines says website not hacked

Screen grab of the defaced Malaysia Airlines website, believed to have been hacked, on the morning of January 26, 2015, local time.
Screen grab of the defaced Malaysia Airlines website, believed to have been hacked, on the morning of January 26, 2015, local time.

Malaysia Airlines claimed Monday that its website had not been hacked, refuting claims by hacker group "Lizard Squad," who appeared to have taken over the main page earlier in the day and made references to the Islamic State.

The carrier admitted that its Domain Name System (DNS) has been compromised resulting in users being re-directed to a hacker website when the www.malaysiaairlines.com URL is keyed in, but maintained that its database is secure.

"Malaysia Airlines assures customers and clients that its website was not hacked and this temporary glitch does not affect their bookings and that user data remains secured," the airline said on its Facebook page on Monday afternoon.

The system is expected to be fully recovered within 22 hours, Malaysia Airlines said, noting that the incident was reported to CyberSecurity Malaysia and the Ministry of Transport.

Early Monday, many visitors attempting to access the airline's websites were re-directed to a page with the words "404 – Plane Not Found, Hacked by Cyber Caliphate" in bold white letters, against the backdrop of a Malaysia Airlines plane.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Central Command's Twitter and YouTube accounts were the targets of a cyber-attack by hackers that claimed to be working for Cyber Caliphate.

Screen grab of the defaced Malaysia Airlines website, believed to have been hacked, on the morning of January 26, 2015, local time.
Screen grab of the defaced Malaysia Airlines website, believed to have been hacked, on the morning of January 26, 2015, local time.

The tab of the webpage read "ISIS will prevail" and the background music was a rap song.

Names of two hacking groups - Lizard Squad and UGNazi - and two individuals - Nathan Nye and Henry Blair Strater - were listed on the left side of the page, following the words "Greetz 2."

At 02:30 GMT, the background of the website was changed to black with a picture of a Lizard in a top hat, smoking a pipe and wearing a monocle – the same image featured on Lizard Squad's Twitter page.

Lizard Squad, best known for hacking gaming networks, recently claimed for disrupting both the PlayStation Network and Microsoft Corp's Xbox Live on Christmas Day.

Before the DNS attack, Lizard Squad hinted at it on its Twitter Page:

ISIS militants, who have seized swathes of Syria and Iraq and declared an Islamic "Caliphate," claimed to have executed a Japanese captive over the weekend.

It's not immediately clear why Malaysia Airlines was targeted, but media reports earlier this month said ISIS recruiters have warned their members not to use Malaysia as a transit point to Syria due to a police crackdown on the militant group.

Malaysia Airlines has been struggling to recover from twin aviation disasters last year, losing MH370 and MH17 in a span of four months with a combined 537 passengers on board.