WSCC working with FBI to find site hackers

MARIETTA – Washington State Community College is working with the FBI to determine the culprit who hacked the college’s website Friday afternoon.

The college’s public website was mostly restored around 10 p.m. Friday after a group dubbed “Al-Qaeda HaCKeR TeaM & TKL” replaced the main page of the website with an image of Osama bin Laden around 4 p.m. that day.

The image, bordered by an anti-American limerick, only stayed up for a few minutes, said Claudia Owens, executive director of public relations and marketing for the college. However, the image disrupted traffic to the college’s public site, which visitors and potential students often use to find information about classes and upcoming events, she said.

Originally, college officials had contacted the Ohio State Highway Patrol to investigate the incident. Because it is a state agency, the college falls under its jurisdiction, said Owens.

However, Washington State is now working with a federal agency, she said.

“It’s a federal matter so we are working with federal authorities because it is a crime. It is a criminal investigation,” she said.

Owens would not specify which federal agency the college is working with, but noted federal officials are not on the college grounds to investigate.

However, Todd Lindgren, public affairs specialist for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, confirmed the FBI is looking into the matter.

“No further details can be released at this time,” said Lindgren in an email Monday afternoon.

Officials have not determined if the hacked site was actually related to global militant group al-Qaeda, but are not aware of any immediate physical threat to the campus, said Owens.

“I think we’ve done a good job in satisfying anyone’s fears. We’ve done everything we can do to assure students and faculty that everything is secure,” said Owens.

That includes the college’s secure student and faculty website. The secure site, which students and faculty use for scheduling classes, checking email and taking online courses, was unaffected by the incident, she said.

The college’s site was not the only one targeted Friday. According to hstoday.us, the digital version of “Homeland Security Today,” the town of Wanatah, Ind., had its website replaced with the same image as WSCC Friday. On Monday afternoon, its site was still down and redirecting to a Facebook page.

While the college’s public site is back online, it could take the entire week to go through every page frame by frame and make sure each one is secure, said Owens.

“We want to ensure that each page is trouble free. Our No. 1 priority right now is ensuring the public website can go back up,” she said.