BAHRAIN has beefed up Internet security after several government websites were attacked by a global hacking network.
The Justice, Islamic Affairs and Endowment Ministry, General Directorate for Traffic and Licensing, Custom Affairs, Foreign Affairs Ministry, Civil Service Bureau and Northern Governorate were among those targeted.
The international hacking group Anonymous, which has previously attacked the Chinese, British and Polish governments, the FBI, US Justice Department and Interpol, claimed responsibility.
Most of the websites in Bahrain were targeted during the F1 weekend and have returned to normal.
However, some continued to be inaccessible yesterday.
It is understood some of the sites were taken offline by a distributed denial-of-service attack that floods a server with so many requests that it cannot respond to legitimate users.
"The Information Technology Directorate and officials have been warned of increasing attacks on government websites and asked to ensure their servers are not affected," sources told the GDN.
Anonymous claimed responsibility for the Bahrain attacks on the website anoncentral.tumblr.com, describing it as #OpBahrain and warned of further attacks.
Anonymous also targeted the Formula One fan site F1-Racers.net and posted anti-government messages and video clippings on its home page.
The personal details of F1 spectators such as their passport numbers and e-mail addresses were also displayed.
"We will also jam your phone lines, bomb your e-mail inboxes and wreck anything else of yours we can find on the Internet. Good luck generating ad revenues with your servers down!," stated Anonymous.
Last year, hackers, mainly from Iran, targeted websites belonging to the Interior Ministry, Bahrain News Agency and Housing Ministry as part of a campaign to spread anti-government propaganda.
Following the spate of hacking incidents, Bahrain decided to shift its servers based in the US home with the help of the Central Informatics Organisation.
Gulf Air's Facebook page was also hacked earlier this month by criminals demanding the release of political activist Abdulhadi Al Khawaja, who is among 21 men serving life sentences for being part of a plot to overthrow the monarchy last year.