Maverick news website 'hacked' over BRICS story

Daily Maverick

A screen grab of the "Daily Maverick" website taken on August 24, 2023.

Photo credit: Pool

South African news website Daily Maverick, has claimed they were hacked on Wednesday after publishing a report on Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s arrival in Johannesburg for the BRICS Summit.

The report detailed how Modi was reportedly unhappy not to be welcomed by his South African counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa when he landed and that he even refused to leave the plane.

These details have not been independently verified by the Nation.

But in a series of posts on social media platform X, the publication said it had been “subjected to a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack”.

“Several hours ago, the site suddenly went down. We picked it up very quickly and started identifying a massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack. We investigated and found it was coming from a whole host of Indian servers,” the publication’s security coordinator said.

A DDoS attack in tech terms is a malicious attempt to disrupt the normal traffic of a targeted server, network or website by overwhelming the target or its surrounding infrastructure with a flood of internet traffic.

According to Daily Maverick, PM Modi was greeted by South Africa’s Deputy President Paul Mashatile when he landed at Waterkloof Air Force Base on Tuesday.

The Indian leader reportedly refused to leave the plane because he was expecting to be greeted by President Ramaphosa, who had personally welcomed Chinese President Xi Jinping when he arrived in South Africa the previous day.

Daily Maverick said on Wednesday night that they had installed a firewall and restored their website despite the ongoing cyber-attack.

“It was obvious that the purpose of this attack is to deny the people of India access to this story as no attempt was made to hide the source of the attack,” Daily Maverick‘s editor-in-chief Branko Brkic said.

“This left us with no option but to block the entire domain of India to protect the integrity of the site.”

According to reports, the website is currently not accessible from India.

Daily Maverick has been investigating ways to make the article accessible to India, but the attack is so large, it’s proving difficult,” the publication further stated.

Mr Mashatile’s office spokesperson was quoted in the media saying: “Every aspect of what the Daily Maverick reported is a lie”.

The spokesperson said the Deputy President “did not go to the airport to appease Modi but was there as planned”.

The India Prime Minister is in South Africa to attend the three-day Brics summit, which ends on Thursday.