Group created Facebook link using Brookhaven server with anti-Trump message
A pro-ISIS group successfully hacked the Brookhaven Town web servers for at least three hours Sunday, June 25.
Brookhaven was one of 76 municipalities affected by the hack, according to Deputy Supervisor Daniel Panico (R-Manorville). The anti-American group created a page with hateful propaganda against the USA and the President of the United States.
Panico and Supervisor Ed Romaine (R) addressed the incident during a press conference at Town Hall June 26. The group, called Team System DZ created a link using the Brookhaven Town servers to a static, “look-alike” webpage at the address www.https://www.brookhavenny.gov/index.html, and posted it on their Facebook page with the message “Government sites continue to be fondled,” in Arabic, according to Google Translate. The standard brookhavenny.gov website was not impacted and the propaganda page was not visible anywhere on the site, though “out of an abundance of caution,” the town server has been quarantined and the town webpage was taken down.
At the time of this posting the town website remains down, though Romaine said he expected it to be restored within 24 hours of the press conference. The propaganda page has been taken down and currently lists an error message.
“You will be held accountable Trump, you and all your people for every drop of blood flowing in Muslim countries,” the message read in part.
Panico said he was alerted about the issue after a town employee notified the town’s information technology department about the breach after reading a New York Post story posted at about 1:30 p.m. with information about the Facebook post by the group.
Panico was asked if it was concerning the town was alerted thanks to media reports rather than its own security defenses.
“It was a Sunday, and I don’t know anyone in our IT department that checks ISIS-related Facebook pages,” he said. “We’re pretty thorough here at the town, but I don’t know that our IT department combs the pages of those people who hate America.”
Romaine said officials from a Suffolk County cybercrimes unit were speaking with the town’s IT director while the press conference was going on, and the FBI and Homeland Security would assist in investigating the breach. Romaine added U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley) offered full assistance of federal investigative personnel to get to the bottom of the incident, and he had also been in contact with U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer’s (D) office Monday.
“It’s disconcerting and we don’t write it off as a prank,” Romaine said during the press conference. “We take threats like this, cyber threats, seriously.”
Panico said no information was extracted from the website or servers, and possible actions to prevent future breaches are part of the investigation. He also said it is unclear how long the servers were infiltrated by the hackers. Panico disputed claims the message was posted on the town website’s homepage. Romaine said this was the first time the town had suffered a breach like this.
“None of our records that we know of were breached,” Panico said, adding that the town’s financial information is stored on the cloud offsite on different servers.
Zeldin addressed the hack in an emailed statement through spokeswoman Jennifer DiSiena.
“I will continue to do anything in my power to improve cyber security and protect against other threats facing our nation at home and abroad,” he said.
Marisa Kaufman, a spokeswoman from Schumer’s office, said in an email they have been in contact with Brookhaven about the issue and are looking into the matter. Schumer sent a letter to Department of Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly urging him to launch an immediate investigation into the incident.
“The possibility that these breaches were done by an ISIS or terror-affiliated organization is especially troublesome; citizens deserve to feel like their everyday critical infrastructure, especial their local government’s website are safe and usable,” the letter said.
This version was updated June 26 to include comments from Schumer and the message on the page.