Kurdish hacker behind attacks on major Irish websites, including NTMA

7 Feb 2017

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter. Image: Owen_Holdaway/Shutterstock

The website of the National Treasury Management Agency, which manages Ireland’s debt, was taken offline yesterday following a cyberattack from a Kurdish hacker.

The National Treasury Management Agency (NTMA) enforced standard IT protocols after unauthorised access to its website was detected.

The site was hacked and a message that read ‘Long Live Peshmerga’ was published.

The NTMA said the attack had no impact on its core IT systems because the website is hosted offsite.

The attack was made on the NTMA site just hours after it announced plans to borrow €1.25bn on the markets this week.

MuhmadEmad believed to be behind cyberattacks

The NTMA was one of several sites to be attacked by the same hacker, who goes by the moniker MuhmadEmad, repeatedly displaying the ‘Long Live Peshmerga’ message along with the Kurdish flag.

The Kurdish Peshmerga army is engaged in pivotal battles against the Islamic State.

According to The Irish Times, other sites affected by the attack include ones linked to Enterprise Ireland, Irish Distillers, singer Paul Brady, outdoor advertising agency JCDecaux, the Federation of Irish Sport, schools in Dublin and Donegal, and a modelling agency.

The website of the Minister for State for Tourism and Sport Patrick O’Donovan, TD, was also hit by the cyberattack.

It is understood that the same Kurdish hacker hit several European websites in recent days, including Brussels-based tech website ZDNet.

MuhmadEmad exploited a vulnerability in the WordPress web publishing system, where crucial updates had not been applied.

A Kurdish Peshmerga fighter. Image: Owen_Holdaway/Shutterstock

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years