Gov.za UAE Embassy webpage linked to shady video streaming website

The South African government’s listing of the UAE Embassy in Pretoria was recently found to point to UAEInteract.com as the embassy’s official website.

Clicking the link directs visitors to a website that offers streaming of unlicensed video content.

It displays the text “Watch Episodes Series TV Shows Online” in the site’s title, and offers streaming of shows such as The Voice UK, The Walking Dead, The Simpsons, Shameless, and Supergirl.

To find out whether the gov.za website had been “hacked” to link to the video streaming website, MyBroadband contacted the State Information Technology Agency (Sita) for comment.

Sita said that it is not responsible for the gov.za website, and that we should contact Government Communication and Information Systems (GCIS).

GCIS immediately removed the offending URL upon being informed about it, but it did not provide comment on queries about the matter.

However, a search on archive.org reveals that UAE Interact used to be a legitimate website that contained news and information about the United Arab Emirates, as recently as 2018.

MyBroadband also learned that the contact information for the UAE Embassy in Pretoria was last changed in 2017.

This indicates that the UAE Interact website was changed some time after it was added to the contact information page for the UAE Embassy in Pretoria.

A search of the history of the UAE Interact domain reveals that the URL was pointed to a different server on 25 October 2018 with an IP address which belonged to the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority of the UAE.

Previously, the domain had pointed to an IP address on Cloudflare’s network for three years. Cloudflare is a global network platform that offers a variety of services for domains, most notably protection from denial of service attacks.

On 6 January 2019, the URL was once again pointed to a different server — this time one on the network of Dutch operator Serverius. On 10 February, the domain was switched back to Cloudflare.

The most recent changes to the UAE Interact domain are summarised in the table below:

UAEInteract.com DNS history
Date of change IP address Network
2014/12/26 104.28.5.122
104.28.4.122
Cloudflare
2018/10/25 108.54.19.223 Telecommunication Regulatory Authority
2019/01/06 37.1.205.15 Serverius Holding B.V.
2019/02/10 104.27.177.197
104.27.176.197
Cloudflare

This suggests that when the GCIS last updated the contact details for the UAE Embassy in Pretoria, UAE Interact was an informational website.

Archive.org shows that at some point in 2018, UAEInteract.com went offline. It relaunched in late 2018 or 2019 as a “pirate” streaming site.

GCIS did not respond to questions about who provided the URL for the official website of the UAE Embassy, or why it wasn’t notified of the change to the UAEInteract.com domain.

UAE Interact
UAEInteract.com — Left: January 2018; Right: Current (click to enlarge)

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Gov.za UAE Embassy webpage linked to shady video streaming website