US vigilante hacker, 'The Jester,' defaces Russian government website

In what he describes as a warning to the Russian government to stop attempting to influence the US presidential election, a self-styled patriotic American hacker known as 'The Jester' has defaced the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Screenshot
This screenshot of a page on the website of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs shows defacement by a hacker who calls himself 'The Jester.'

An American hacker who identifies himself as “The Jester” inserted code onto a Russian foreign ministry website over the weekend, with a message of retaliation for “all their meddling in US affairs,” as the vigilante hacker wrote on his own blog.

“It’s a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it,” wrote the anonymous hacker, who has become a celebrity in recent years for taking down dozens of websites that he says support jihadist propaganda and recruitment. According to CNNMoney, ex-FBI agents have called him "the Batman of the internet."

The US government has blamed Russia for hacking into private Democratic National Committee emails, which have been published over the weeks on WikiLeaks, apparently in an attempt to influence the US presidential election.

In a note that Jester posted on Friday, which has since been taken down from what Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova says was an old site that hasn’t been used in long time, the hacker wrote: "Comrades! We interrupt regular scheduled Russian Foreign Affairs Website programming to bring you the following important message," according to a screenshot posted on Jester’s own website. "Knock it off. You may be able to push around nations around you, but this is America. Nobody is impressed."

According to CNNMoney, which has interviewed the hacker, the Friday post included “the ear-piercing sound of an American civil alert message – that shrieking dial tone that accompanies emergency weather broadcasts.”

In a Sunday Facebook post, Ms. Zakharova responded in Russian that if America carried out the hack, even on an old website, “that's not very good because it shows that either the cyber-machine of destruction talked about by Biden and Mcfaul has started operating, or this hellishly provocative electoral campaign in the US has got people into such a state that they begin to destroy everything in their path," according to a translation by Sputnik, a news agency operated by the Russian government.

Jester told CNN that his hack was also motivated by Friday’s distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attacks on internet service provider Dyn, which crippled the websites of many of its clients, including Twitter, Netflix, and PayPal.

"I wanted to poke them in the eye and stop feeling like US is just taking it on the chin. Again," he said.

Friday’s attacks are still under investigation, though a group that calls itself New World Hackers claimed responsibility for them in a direct Twitter message to an Associated Press reporter.

“We didn’t do this to attract federal agents, only test power,” two group members who identified themselves as “Prophet” and “Zain” told the AP in a claim that the reporter has not been able to verify. The hackers told the AP that Friday’s attacks were a test before a bigger, retaliatory attack on the Russian government for committing its alleged cyberattacks against the US.

This report includes material from the Associated Press.

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