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Government agencies on alert after hackers threaten attacks

Published on Nov 1, 2013 8:15 AM
 
Government agencies have been put on alert after someone claiming to be part of the global hacker group Anonymous posted an online video threatening to hit out at the country's infrastructure. -- SCREENGRAB: YOUTUBE

Government agencies have been put on alert after someone claiming to be part of the global hacker group Anonymous posted an online video threatening to hit out at the country's infrastructure.

The Straits Times learnt that the Government IT Security Incident Response Team - set up to coordinate responses to a cyber intrusion - alerted all government agencies after the video was posted on YouTube on Tuesday, warning of possible hacks to bring down government websites.

When contacted, the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore said: "We are aware of the video, and the police are investigating the matter."

The video threatened to bring down Singapore's infrastructure in a show of protest against licensing regulations on news sites.

Instituted in June, the regulations require certain news sites to post a $50,000 bond and take down offensive content within 24 hours.

"We demand you reconsider the regulations of your framework or we will be forced to go to war with you," said the video message, which was delivered using an image of a Guy Fawkes anonymity mask.

The threat followed Monday's attack on Ang Mo Kio Town Council's home page and the earlier hacking of a webpage within pre-school operator PAP Community Foundation's site by someone known as "The Messiah", who also claimed to be part of Anonymous.

Both webpages were still down as of 8pm yesterday.

Tuesday's video alluded to the attacks as the work of one Anonymous hacker, and a "sneak peak" of what would come if the Government stuck to its guns.

It warned of "a legion" of Anonymous hackers "unleashed" on Singapore's infrastructure if the demands were not met.

The video was put up using the YouTube account of "Cecilia Xiao", but the user removed the clip at about 5.30pm yesterday.

Mr Howard Lee, spokesman for the FreeMyInternet movement, which organised protests against the licensing rules, said he and the movement had nothing to do with the video threat.

"FreeMyInternet has made it clear from the start that we are for, and continue to believe in, open and direct communication with the Government," said Mr Lee, who is also an editor with The Online Citizen website.

Security experts are not sure whether the video was indeed the work of Anonymous, which has claimed responsibility for many high-profile attacks on corporations and government agencies globally, including the United States' Federal Emergency Management Agency and Sony-branded websites.

Mr Eric Chan, regional technical director of security software firm Fortinet, said: "Anyone can claim to be a member (of Anonymous); it is hard to determine who is real."

Mr Paul Ducklin, a consultant at security software firm Sophos, said: "I don't see the need to do anything different because of these threats unless you weren't taking computer security seriously beforehand."

itham@sph.com.sg

Additional reporting by Derrick Ho