Someone Hacked and Defaced Donald Trump’s Website

Someone Hacked and Defaced Donald Trump’s Website
Photo: JIM WATSON / AFP, Getty Images

Someone hacked into and temporarily defaced the website of former President Donald Trump on Monday, weirdly embedding a YouTube video of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan onto one of the site’s pages.

The defacement, which popped up on the site’s subdomain devoted to “Action,” included the following message: “Do not be like those who forgot Allah, so Allah made them forget themselves.” Embedded into the page was also a video of Erdogan in which the controversial Turkish leader is seen discussing passages from the Quran, CNN reports. Pretty weird.

The hack appears to have been carried out by a self-described “hacktivist” who goes by the moniker “RootAyyildiz.” The hacker told Vice News on Monday that they were the one behind the defacement, explaining that they had infiltrated the page using a Server Side Template Injection, or SSTI — a kind of exploit that allows for remote code execution.

“There are many areas of hacking attacks, for example, hacking social media accounts or websites, I am a hacktivist and I have been working on websites for a long time,” the hacker told the outlet in a Facebook message.

The site targeted by “Root” was launched by Trump in May, not long after he left office. At the time, the former President had recently been banished from pretty much all the major social media outlets (Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram). As a result, Trump was casting about for a mouthpiece and wanted to create his own platform where he would have the ability to post anything. However, after the site launched and failed to garner any real attention on the scale he was hoping for, the former president quietly retired active editorial operations for it and now the site is basically a hollowed-out campaign shell for a guy who is no longer actively involved in politics.

Weirdly enough, the same hacker who targeted Trump’s site appears to have claimed responsibility for a hack on Joe Biden’s campaign website last November. During that episode, hackers using the same “RootAyyildiz” moniker defaced the then-political candidate’s site by etching a number of statements into the site that seemed to reference American influence in Turkey’s political affairs. A report produced by the National Intelligence Council this past March refers to that prior incident as “hacktivist” in nature — one aimed at promoting “Turkish nationalist themes.”