Visitors to the Malaysia Airlines webpage early Monday morning were greeted not by the company’s logo, but by the above image, which reads “404 – Plane Not Found,” followed by the phrase “Hacked by LIZARD SQUAD – OFFICIAL CYBER CALIPHATE.”
The hack managed to pack maximum PR damage into this one-two punch, referencing both the recent loss of flight MH370 with the “plane not found” phrase and insinuating association with the Islamic State jihadists by using the word “Caliphate.” Here’s an alternate version of the image:
— Sky News (@SkyNews) January 26, 2015
Malaysia Airlines was very quick to respond, sharing this clarification in a media statement posted just after midnight: A Twitter account claiming to represent the group disputed that statement (though the earlier link mentioned is broken):
For context, The Lizard Squad is the same group of hackers that claimed responsibility for recent attacks on the Sony PlayStation Network and Microsoft’s Xbox Live network. It is unclear why the group, seemingly interested in attacking Western corporations, chose to target Malaysia Airlines.
The company initially set up a separate site allowing customers to check in, but its homepage is now back up and running as usual.
Malaysia Airlines has yet to make an extended statement about the incident, but we expect competing narratives to emerge shortly in what will continue to be a communications crisis for the company.