Qatar-based news broadcaster Al-Jazeera has confirmed that all of its systems had faced systematic cyber-attacks on Thursday.
Al-Jazeera has also confirmed that "systematic and continual hacking attempts" on its systems have so far failed and that no data has been compromised.
The cyber-attack on Al-Jazeera's IT systems follows a similar attempt in May when hackers were able to post false statements and fake news on Qatar's official news agency's website, leading to a stand-off between Qatar and other Middle Eastern powers like Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Fake news, data privacy and General Elections
Fake news posted on the news agency's website stated that Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Emir of Qatar, was critical of renewed tensions with Iran and expressed the need for contextualising Hezbollah and Hamas as resistance movements.
Hackers were also able to take over the Twitter account of the military academy where he delivered a speech and posted several statements in his name. The Emir had allegedly stated that “there is no wisdom in harbouring hostility towards Iran”, that the relationship between Israel and Qatar was good and that the Emir believed Donald Trump wouldn't remain President of the US for very long.
"This is the latest in a string of attacks on governments and government organisations that seem to have been designed to cause maximum unrest and tamper with the geopolitics of different regions, whether they are in the middle east, in Europe or Asia," said Sunetra Chakravarti, Editor at TEISS.
The Middle East emerges as the most vulnerable region to cyber-threats globally
Several Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates cut off all ties with Qatar following the 'fake news' incident. Al-Jazeera hasn't confirmed if recent cyber-attacks on its systems and the stand-off between Qatar and the rest of the Middle East are related, but it has mentioned the previous incident in the statement through which it announced cyber-attacks on its systems.
The Emir of Qatar authorised an in-depth investigation into the hacking of the country's official news agency soon after it took place. Both the FBI and British authorities taking part in the investigation believe Russian hackers could be behind the incident.