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Dublin: 6 °C Sunday 9 December, 2018

DUP hacker: I was tempted by party's poor web security

Hector O’Hackatdawn says he hacked the DUP site on New Year’s Eve, and attacked again when it wasn’t made more secure.

Hector O'Hackatdawn borrowed his identity from TG4 and 2fm presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin.
Hector O'Hackatdawn borrowed his identity from TG4 and 2fm presenter Hector Ó hEochagáin.

THE IRISH-LANGUAGE ‘hacktivist’ who defaced the website of the Democratic Unionist Party, and the sites of two of its most prominent leaders, has said he first defaced the site on New Year’s Eve – and that he was “shocked” to find that the site’s security holes had not been fixed two weeks later.

‘Hector O’Hackatdawn’, the Derry-based “political hacker”, told that he had injected the DUP website with the fake ‘Happy New Year’ news story – which purported to claim that the party was embracing the Irish language, and apologising for its homophobic attitude – on December 31, having accessed the site through its main administration panel.

“I only required to attack one portion of the website,” O’Hackatdawn (not, unsurprisingly, his real name) said.

Having posted the December 31 news story – headlined “Athbhliain faoi mhaise daoibh go léir”, or ‘Happy new year to you all’ – only for the story to be removed within 20 minutes, the hacker was then surprised to find that the same security hole had remained unaddressed when he attempted an identical attack on the site yesterday.

As a result, the personal sites of Peter Robinson and Jeffrey Donaldson were both attacked last night – and later taken offline by DUP staff – after they were replaced with a holding page, saying both MPs were now in support of the Irish Language Act.

“I assumed that they had patched their content management system – but the same flaw existed two weeks on… I was shocked that they would let their website run after being attacked without making any modifications,” he said.

‘No longer an Orange state’

Hector refused to blame the website’s administrator, acknowledging that the security of large websites like the DUP’s is “very tricky”, and said his actions had been borne out of frustration with the DUP’s attitude to the introduction of an Irish Language Act in the Stormont Assembly.

“The DUP needs to realise that the North is no longer an Orange state,” O’Hackatdawn said. “The Nationalist community will no longer be dictated to by them.

DUP members of the UK parliament had “already made speeches in Ulster Scots in Westminster – but yet, they chastise nationalist politicians in the SDLP and Sinn Féin from using the Irish language in Stormont… where is the balance?”

The DUP – along with the British and Irish governments - was a signatory to the St Andrews Agreement in 2006, which outlined that an Irish Language Act would be introduced for Northern Ireland. Thus far, however, the party has resisted any moves to introduce such legislation.

“I’m sure people will look at this attack and say, ‘That’s childish’,” Hector acknowledged. “Well, maybe they’re right. But the tribal politics that exists up here is also childish.

Irish language speakers are fed up of not being taken seriously. We have unionist politicians labelling the language as a ‘leprechaun language’. How do we expect them to treat our concerns seriously?

The hacker said he had no plans for future attacks – “everything I have wanted to say has been said” – but stressed that he did not want Unionists to believe the attacks were targeted at them as a whole.

“I would protect their rights to protect Ulster Scots just as much as the Irish language, if that is what they desired,” he said. “My attack is against a political party which refuses to respect my culture and my language.”

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About the author:

Gavan Reilly

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