Not a Man's Dream, the Australian luxury streetwear label, has faced public criticism after displaying clothing with the word “Allah” printed on them in Arabic.
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Several Muslim hacktivist groups joined hacktivist crews Team insane pk, Eagle Cyber, and Mysterious Team during a denial-of-service and website defacement campaign targeting Australia that started on Saturday, March 21. The Australian fashion label Not A Man's Dream caused a shock wave across the Muslim community by featuring models wearing designs with the word “Allah” in Arabic inscribed across the fabric. In response, the Muslim hacktivist community aligned forces and started attacking Australian infrastructure and private organizations under the operation tags #OpAustralia and #opsjentik.
As of Friday, March 17, Not A Man's Dream has become a prominent target for Muslim hacktivists and between Saturday and the time of this writing, well over 70 Australian sites—including the public websites of governments, ports, banks, and private businesses—have been the target of denial-of-service attacks.
Not a Man's Dream, the Australian luxury streetwear label, has faced public criticism after displaying clothing with the word “Allah” printed on them in Arabic. On Saturday March 11, 2023, during the final show of the Melbourne Fashion Festival, one of their designs featured a model wrapped in a transparent fabric with the Arabic inscription “Allah walks with me” (الله يمشي معي) across the body. The model's head, neck and ears were also covered with the same fabric, in what some perceived to be a nod to the Islamic headscarf, or the hijab.
Another piece featured a layered, short-sleeved dress with a large split and the same inscription. A Melbourne-based Muslim fashion blogger, Mona Khalifa, attended the show and said she was "disturbed" when she saw the design. Khalifa posted to TikTok describing the designs as "blatant disrespect" for Muslims and Arab Christians who share the same Arabic word for ”God.” The video has gone viral.
Figure 1: Model wrapped in Arabic-scripted fabric behind the scenes of the Melbourne Fashion Festival runway show Source: Instagram / PayPal Australia
Figure 2: Melbourne Fashion Festival image carousel featuring the controversial dress Source: Instagram / Melbourne Fashion Festival
Figure 3: Telegram post forwarded by CsCrew on Team insane pk channel
On March 16, 2023, CsCrew posted a message on Telegram that referred to the fashion show incident and threatened Australia. It was forwarded to the Team insane pk Telegram channel.
On Friday, March 17, 2023, Team insane pk posted a message on their Telegram channel providing a list of Australian education sites with alleged logins to be leveraged during the upcoming attacks under the battle tag #OpAustralia.
Figure 4: Team insane pk
The message was forwarded to Mysterious Silent Force and Mysterious Team Bangladesh, who called for every Muslim hacktivist, activist, and journalist to join the fight on Saturday, March 18.
Figure 5: #opsjentik by Eagle Cyber Crew
On Friday, March 17, Mysterious Team Bangladesh targeted the website of Not A Man's Dream with DDoS attacks.
By Saturday, DDoS attacks by Team insane pk targeted several Australian Government websites. On Sunday, Mysterious Team Bangladesh claimed they took the websites of the Australian Police and the Citizen Emergency Health Service offline, while Team insane pk went after IMB Bank and Bank of Sydney and continued the onslaught on Not A Man's Dream.
On Monday, March 20, Mysterious Team Bangladesh claimed DDoS attacks on the Port of Portland, Albany Port, Port of Melbourne, the Port Authority of New South Wales, Port of Townsville, Townsville Marine and Educational Sectors and claimed a total of 41 websites were taken offline. At the same time, Team insane pk was targeting government websites and news.com.au.
On Tuesday, a few hours before the writing of this alert, Mysterious Team Bangladesh targeted Southern Ports and Ports North.
Reasons for Concern
Muslim hacktivists have shown to be well connected and have a large circle of influence. Many of the involved hacktivist groups are running multiple concurrent operations, amongst which #OpIndia is a recurring topic. The attacks were motivated by religion, a very common motivation for hacktivists. In other parts of the world, active hacktivist groups are driven by political motivations.
Hacktivists' main objective is getting noticed and spreading their message, either through defacing public websites or making them unavailable through denial-of-service attacks. DDoS attacks are not the hardest to pull off. The hacktivist movements created after the invasion of Ukraine by Russia democratized DDoS attacks and made them more accessible while improving existing tools to make the attacks more sophisticated and more powerful. There’s also a good number of supporting services such as free and paying anonymous proxy providers and providers of pay and go DDoS-for-hire services like Clearnet booter and stresser services.
Figure 7: Mysterious Team Bangladesh claiming DDoS attack on Not A Man's Dream website Source: Telegram
Denial of service has always been an important tactic for hacktivist groups, and this will not change any time soon. As the fallout in Australia has demonstrated, any organization, independent of size and vertical, can become a target of hacktivists. A fashion label made an offensive statement, and governments, ports, banks, and several smaller businesses paid the bill.
There is no reason for panic, but organizations need to be prepared. It is widely known in the security community that disrupting or impacting an organization or infrastructure requires more perseverance than skills or sophistication.