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Lizard Squad strikes again - this time, targeting Malaysia Airlines

The hacker group 'Lizard Squad' has become notorious around the world in recent weeks after several well-publicized outages that prevented gamers from accessing Microsoft's Xbox Live and Sony's PlayStation Network over the festive season. Also, the group made headlines again with the launch of 'Lizard Stresser', a DDoS attack service to bring down websites for as little as a few dollars.

But the recent arrests of individuals believed to be members of Lizard Squad have not deterred others in the group from continuing with their online activism. Today, the website for Malaysia Airlines became the group's latest target.

The hackers apparently took control of the homepage, and replaced it with their own creation, prominently declaring: "Hacked by LIZARD SQUAD: OFFICIAL CYBER CALIPHATE", along with the page title "ISIS will prevail" - a reference to the Islamic State extremist group, known also as IS and ISIL.

Curiously, the page referred to the Twitter handles @UMGRobert and @UMG_Chris, and Lizard Squad also retweeted a comment from someone else crediting these two individuals for their assistance in making the Malaysia Airlines hack possible.

However, both men - from games company UMG Gaming - have denied any involvement in the hack, claiming that Lizard Squad simply chose to pin the blame onto them.

At least two versions of the amended site homepage appeared - one featured the familiar Lizard-with-monocle image on a black background; another added an image of a Malaysia Airlines jet, with the title '404 - Plane Not Found'.

This was intended as a reference to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which disappeared without a trace last year, with 239 passengers and crew on board. Further tragedy befell the airline when its flight MH17 was shot down from cruising altitude while flying over eastern Ukraine a few months later, killing all 298 people on the plane.

These high-profile disasters naturally make Malaysia Airlines a visible target for hackers keen to maximize exposure of the group's activities. But other than using it to boost Lizard Squad 'brand awareness', it remains unclear why else the group would target the airline directly.

One further development may yet unfold in this latest incident. In a statement to Reuters, the airline said today: "Malaysia Airlines assures customers and clients that its website was not hacked and this temporary glitch does not affect their bookings and that user data remains secured."

However, Lizard Squad begs to differ. On Twitter, it claimed that the airline was "lying about user data not being compromised", and posted a link to an image hosted on Imgur, which has since been removed.

The group had promised a few hours earlier to "dump some loot found on malaysiaairlines.com servers soon", but it is not yet clear if that now-removed image was the full extent of the group's 'loot' from the hack. If it's not, we may yet see more data being published in the hours and days ahead.

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