Canton Kayak Club website hacked

A screen shot of what the Canton Kayak Club's website looked like on a mobile device. (August 29, 2013)

First The New York Times; now the Canton Kayak Club?

The website for the group of urban paddling enthusiasts was the victim of an apparent hacking Wednesday and Thursday, bearing an image of a man on a horse with a spear and the messages "NO WAR!" and "All Hail the Islamic world, we're here!"

"We have no idea who did it nor why someone would hack our site," club Vice President Cliff Charland said. "It is obviously something we’re not happy about."

The website had been restored to normal as of 3:30 p.m. Thursday. Charland said the club's webmaster was looking to determine how the hack occurred and how it could be prevented in the future. The club has about 500 members, many of whom use the site frequently for information on club events, he said.

Meanwhile, visitors to the Times' website remained unable to access it via its normal URL Thursday afternoon (the newspaper's content is being made available instead at http://news.nytco.com/).

One local cyber security expert said the attacks are different, given that the kayak club's website was defaced whereas the Times' is simply inaccessible. But both demonstrate the rise in "hacktivism," he said.

"In cyber security nowadays having a good situational awareness of world events is crucial," said Rick Forno, assistant director of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County Center for Cybersecurity.

Website defacement is akin to spray-painting a message on the side of a building, Forno said, and aims to get a group's message out to the public. While the kayak club may be an "odd target," it's possible hackers just took advantage of a vulnerability they came across, he said.

"I don't think there is any international outcry against the Canton Kayak Club, so it could just be that they got caught up in somebody's scan of the internet," Forno said.

For a more public target like the Times, hacking is likely a bit more deliberate.

"It's making a point saying, 'Look, we can do this, and you're doing something in the world we disagree with and we want to lash out," Forno said.