Police investigating hacking of Jamaica government information service website

Jamaica JIS hacked

The hacked website of the JIS on Monday night.

KINGSTON, Jamaica, Friday June 26, 2015 – Police have started investigations into the hacking of the websites of the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) and five other entities that the government agency hosts.

Science, Technology, Energy and Mining State Minister Julian Robinson said yesterday that the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) has committed resources “to try and identify the source of this cybercriminal activity” which occurred on Monday night, affecting the websites of JIS; the Culture, Health, Arts, Sports, and Education (CHASE) Fund; G.C. Foster College; Social Development Commission (SDC); Houses of Parliament; and Jamaica National Commission for UNESCO.

Robinson said while it was not yet clear whether the attack originated locally or overseas, “there were certain things that were posted which we have to treat with seriously, as a country”.

Visitors to jis.gov.jm saw a black background with a “message to all peoples of the world and especially governments” that the Islamic State (ISIS) would restore the rights of Muslims who have been killed by governments, and “restore dignity for Muslims”.

Robinson said the Cyber Incidents Response Team (CIRT), which responded when the breach was identified, is continuing work to ensure that all potential “loopholes” are closed and prevent future attacks.

CIRT is comprised of technical officers from several Ministries, Departments and Agencies, including the JCF.

The minister said he was satisfied with the extent of work undertaken by the personnel involved, which ensured that the six sites were restored within a couple of hours.

“The reality of what we are dealing with . . . is very clear. As a country and as a Government we are the target of . . . cybercriminals and we are moving to ensure that we can implement common standards and measures to address the issue,” he said.

In addition to the establishment of CIRT, which is comprised of people with extensive training and experience in cybersecurity, amendments to the Cybercrimes Act are pending, equipment is being acquired, officers are being trained, and efforts are ongoing to ensure that systems are resilient and robust in the face of threats.

Robinson also said that a public education campaign will be undertaken to heighten awareness about cybersecurity.

JIS said preliminary findings revealed that the attempts of the “hacktivists” at breaching the system did not result in access to sensitive information, but was constrained to “surface defacement” and no data was corrupted.

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