The website of the International Women's Media Foundation (IWMF) suffered a complex brute-force attack Friday, Sept. 5. The website that features the work of the IWMF and promotes the empowerment of women journalists worldwide was defaced and most of its original content destroyed.
Using password-cracking software, a hacker operating from Turkey attacked iwmf.org, a Wordpress-based website, with over 3,000 login attempts until gaining access to its backend. The hacker replaced the IWMF's extensive website with a single page displaying the message “Hacked - Good Bye Admins” and installed malicious code to block anyone else from logging in. The website was fully restored and functional less than 36 hours after the attack was detected.
The severity of the breach, as well as the hacker's advanced methods and systematic approach, suggest that this incident was a targeted attack against the IWMF and its mission to strengthen the role of women in the media.
Digital threats against women journalists have become a growing concern in recent years. A study on Violence and Harassment against Women in the News Media, published by the IWMF and the International News Safety Institute earlier this year, shows that nearly 20% of women journalists who participated in the study had experienced tapping, hacking and/or digital security threats. The IWMF has increased its efforts to raise awareness for this issue, in addition to including digital security training in select IWMF reporting fellowships.
About the IWMF
Founded in 1990 by a group of prominent U.S. women journalists, the International Women’s Media Foundation is a Washington-based organization that is dedicated to strengthening the role of women journalists worldwide. The IWMF believes the news media worldwide are not truly free and representative without the equal voice of women. The IWMF celebrates the courage of women journalists who overcome threats and oppression to speak out on global issues. The IWMF’s programs empower women journalists with the training, support and network to become leaders in the news industry. For more information, please visit iwmf.org, follow @IWMF on Twitter, and like IWMF on Facebook.