A group of hackers calling itself the Iranian Cyber Army defaced the website for the Voice of America, the organization said Tuesday.
The site usually displays a stream of news stories in a wide array of languages, from English to Thai to Persian to Mandarin. Instead, it briefly displayed an image of the Iranian flag and a gun on Monday, as well as a screed urging U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "stop interfering in Islamic countries."
That sort of hacking is unsurprising in the wake of Voice of America's work reporting on the most tumultuous events since 1989, said Walter Isaacson, who heads up the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which oversees all U.S. international broadcasting including VOA and Radio Free Europe.
“It is a testament to their vital role that they are subject to the work of hackers and signal interference,” Isaacson said.
Dana Perino, a member of the BBG and FoxNews.com contributor, agreed.
“Technology is chipping away at the (government's) stranglehold on free and fair information inside Iran," she said. "The fact that the sites were redirected to the Iranian Cyber Army certainly raises an eyebrow or two.”
Despite the outward changes to the website's appearance, its internal servers weren't compromised, said Rebecca McMenamin, director of the office of new media within the Broadcasting Board of Governors, which operates the VOA.
"VOANews.com’s primary domain, along with numerous related domains registered with Network Solutions, were hacked by an unknown party," McMenamin said.
The site has subsequently been restored to normal, but because of caching issues some "rogue sites" may appear, McMenamin said.
"This was a Domain Name System (DNS) attack redirecting the VOANews.com website. This was not a breach of our internal systems or servers. No data was lost or compromised as a result of this event," she said.
The group is still investigating who is responsible.
The hack comes during a time of turmoil for the Middle East and North Africa, in the wake of the recent step[omg down of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak following massive protests. On Tuesday, Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi vowed to fight on in the face of similar protests and die a "martyr," calling on his supporters to take back the streets from demonstrators. And two Iranian naval vessels traveled through the Suez Canal on Tuesday en route to Syria -- the first time in three decades that Tehran has sent military ships through the strategic waterway.
The VOA hacking seem to be in response to remarks Clinton made on Sunday on BBC America, according to a statement on the Voice of America site. The Iranian Cyber Army is not officially affiliated with Iran; but the government-run Fars News Agency confirmed that the group had hacked the VOA site and all of its affiliated websites, including those in other languages.
"The move came in response to the false reports released by the VOA and other websites on the spread and progress of seditious moves in Iran," wrote Fars, stating that the Voice of America "acts as a complementary and media arm of the U.S. spy agencies."