x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Virgin Radio website hacked in protest at 'bling' and Western singers performing in UAE

The pop music station's website has been disabled by a hacker going by the name of OxAlien.

DUBAI // A hacker who disabled Virgin Radio Dubai’s website says he was motivated by patriotism.

The man hacked into the pop music station site yesterday morning and left a message in grey text protesting at the “bling, bling” culture of international singers and dancers coming to the UAE.

“Your database is with me,” his message read. “I’ll sell the admin login script in the black market to get some cash. No files have been deleted from your server.”

Below the statement was a link to a YouTube video of the Islamic preacher Khalid Yasin criticising celebrity culture.

The hacker, who calls himself OxAlien, says he is an Emirati and targeted the station because it had a history of sponsoring events that brought western singers to perform in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

“Virgin has gone too far, really,” he said. He said they were giving the UAE a bad reputation and claimed most Emiratis agreed.

“Just log in to Twitter whenever there is a celebrity in the UAE and read the tweets from the citizens of the UAE. You’ll find that 95 per cent of them are angry because of this.”

No one from Virgin Radio Dubai or its parent company, Arabian Radio Network, was willing to comment. The site was still offline last night.

OxAlien said he learnt how to hack on the internet.

“Of course I’m concerned about getting caught,” he said. “They will catch me if I have made mistakes when hacking into the website. Maybe I forgot to erase evidence. Only time will tell.”

He said he felt it was important to disable the site to get his message out that some performers should not be allowed into the country.

“We all know the UAE is a major tourist destination and we are welcoming people from diverse races,” OxAlien said.

“I have no problem with that. I myself have Jewish and Christian friends. We treat each other with respect.
“But let’s not forget that the UAE has been and will always be a Muslim country and people should respect it for what it is.”

David Michaux, from the cyber-security company Whispering Bell, said such hacking was rare in the UAE.
“Hacking and then defacing a website tends to be done more to attract attention and a bit of glamour for the hacker,” he said.

“If the hacker is in the UAE then they could be in serious trouble as this country has some strict cyber laws. If he has stolen a database from the website and is now selling it, it falls into criminality.”

nhanif@thenational.ae