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April 2014 Print Issue

Vandalism in response to arrest of the "smiling hacker"

thumb Alberta hacksOn Saturday, the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties website was taken down for alleged political reasons by a hacker who claims to be Algerian and have the alias "Me$uT.dZ."

Gerald Rhodes — the group's executive director — said in an email, "It was an unhappy coincidence that we were chosen."

The association — a non-government related organization that represents the interests of rural communities and small towns in Alberta — was targeted this week in response to the arrest of alleged hacker, Hamza Bendelladj.

Bendelladj, 24, was arrested by Thai police in Bangkok's airport on Jan. 6.

hackersMessage for Palestine, this photo was displayed on the Alberta website on Saturday, Jan. 19.In an Agence France-Presse report, the country's immigration police chief Phanu Kerdlabphol said the FBI have been tracking him since he was 20.

"He had hacked several U.S. banks and once he hacked a bank with a transaction of 10 million dollars," said Kerdlabphol.

Bendelladj has been referred to in news reports as the "smiling hacker" due to the grin that was plastered to his face during the arrest.

But some, including hacker Me$uT.dZ, deny those virtual robberies ever happened.

Me$uT.dZ vandalized several websites in response to the arrest, such as a real estate developer's site in the United States.

The Calgary Journal has learned the Alberta Association of Municipal Districts and Counties website was among those sites.

hackersA screenshot of the hacked website showcasing photographs of Bendelladj, the “smiling hacker.”Rhodes said, "We don't believe from our IT folks that we were targeted other than we are one in a group of thousands that use the web software that this particular group is adept at hacking."

On Jan. 19, the association's website displayed the headline: "ALGERIAN HACKERS ANTI USA," blared Algerian rap music, featured photos of the "smiling hacker" and displayed a hashtag that read "#Free Hamza."

Rhodes said this isn't the first time this organization's website has been hacked.

He said it was "possibly by a different group or possibly the same — we were not sure, although the music was just as catchy."

The association's website was back up and working within 12 hours after the hack occurred.

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