Federation of Islamic Associations of NZ spokesman Dr Anwar Ghani says its website crashed it was hacked so many times in the lead up to the end of Ramadan.
An Islamic website infiltrated to announce a false end to New Zealand’s Ramadan was hacked 118 times.
A draft letter, which was waiting for confirmation of sightings of the moon to mark the end of the month-long daylight fasting ritual – Eid’ul Fitr – was published on the Federation of Islamic Associations of New Zealand (FIANZ) website the night of June 4.
But the sighting had not been made, and the end to Ramadan was in fact on June 6.
The glitch caused confusion within the Muslim community, who celebrate the end of their holiest month with a festival including early morning prayers and a day of feasting with friends and family.
The association’s website says the decision-making on the moon sighting is “one of the most important duties” it has.
Spokesman Anwar Ghani told Stuff the impact of the seemingly small incident was “huge on our community”.
An investigation by its computer experts found the site was hacked 118 times or more, he said.
“Our system went down it was so much just at that time.”
But when the association discovered its website had been altered outside its control, it was unable to change the announcement immediately due to the website crashing.
It had to inform the Muslim community of the error via Facebook four minutes later.
The association could only speculate why the website was targeted, but it could be due to international attention brought on the Muslim community in New Zealand following the March 15 terrorist attack.
“We did our own investigation and saw our site was really hacked, not from New Zealand but outside.”
It was not certain which country, or whether the unauthorised access was in fact from New Zealand but using an Internet Protocol address (IP address) registered abroad.
“We won’t reach any conclusion as to what’s happened.”
The site had minor glitches in the past, but it was the first time a hacker had “penetrated the firewall to access documents before”.
High security measures had been installed despite being a “very small NGO (non-profit organisation)”.
“From there on we have tightened our own system and hopefully that will keep the site protected.”
It no longer held pre-prepared statements on its site waiting to go live on confirmation of a moon sighting to avoid future hackings.
No formal complaint was made to police.