The University of Auckland is investigating the possible hacking of one of its websites by a group calling itself the Middle East Cyber Army.
The apparent cyber attack targeted the English Language Academy site, spokeswoman Alison Lees said.
The site was believed to have been targeted on Sunday night and was still out of service on Monday morning, with a note on the page saying it was under maintenance.
A preview of the website on Google shows it has been “hacked by the Middle East Cyber Army”.
It reads: “We are just here to deliver a message. We are Muslim and we are proud”, along with Arabic script, which makes mention of the prophet Muhammad.
Lees said the university was looking into how the attack happened but said she did not yet have any further information.
NetSafe’s digital project manager Chris Hails said it was common that groups from the Middle East would hack into overseas websites.
“There’s a lot of electronic warfare originating from that region,” he said.
“This kind of thing is on the rise.”
Hails said these types of cyber attacks were generally automated attacks against sites, and would often include links to pages with religious or political causes.
Netsafe last year logged 8121 incident reports from Kiwi businesses and residents and 520 of those were classified as “computer security incidents” or hacks.
The Middle East Cyber Army has in the past been linked to hacks on other educational websites in the US and Canada.
In April they hacked the site of an Arizona children’s performing-arts programme.
A similar group, the Syrian Electronic Army, were in the news last week when they brought down the Washington Post website.