On Sunday evening electronic departure boards at Beirut’s airport were hijacked by hackers who used them to display anti-Iranian and anti-Hezbollah messages.
A group calling itself “Lord and the People” took credit for the attack, which displayed messages which translated as:
This is Rafik Hariri Airport, not Hezbollah and Iran Airport.
To Hassan Nasrallah, you will not find a helper if Lebanon is afflicted in a war and you bear responsibility for it and its consequences.
We will not fight on behalf of anyone. You blew up our port and now you want to blow up our airport because of the introduction of weapons. Let the airport be freed from the grip of the state.
Hassan Nasrallah is the leader of Hezbollah in Lebanon.
Some passengers recorded the unusual scene on their smartphones, and shared the footage on social media.
— Al Jadeed News (@ALJADEEDNEWS) January 7, 2024
Although flights continued to leave the airport on schedule, there’s no doubt that the hack will have inconvenienced some people and will have caused some concern amongst passengers.
At the same time, Lebanese travellers reported receiving text messages on their mobile phones claiming to be from Middle East Airlines (MEA), and asking them to “adhere to the instructions of the security services.”
MEA says that although it does contact passengers in the event of emergencies via email and text message, it was not responsible on this occasion for the message sent to travellers’ phones.
Regular readers will remember that this isn’t the first time that hackers have tackled departure boards.
For instance, in 2021 hackers hijacked railway station departure boards in Iran, warning of “long delay[s] because of cyberattack”, and suggesting inconvenienced passengers call a particular number for more information.
Who did that number belong to? The office of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader.