Cyber attacks whether malicious or mischievous are threats: Dr Yaacob

Cyber attacks, regardless if the intent was malicious or mischievous, are threats against the people, said Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (above), in a Facebook post, on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013   -- ST FILE PHOTO:&
Cyber attacks, regardless if the intent was malicious or mischievous, are threats against the people, said Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim (above), in a Facebook post, on Wednesday, Nov 20, 2013   -- ST FILE PHOTO: NURIA LING

Cyber attacks, regardless if the intent was malicious or mischievous, are threats against the people, said Minister for Communications and Information, Dr Yaacob Ibrahim, in a Facebook post on Wednesday.

"These include curious netizens who claimed to have followed instructions found online," he wrote. "It is irresponsible and does not bring about any positive outcome."

Although Dr Yaacob did not name any particular individual in the post, his comments comes after businessman Delson Moo - who was questioned by police over the hacking of the Istana's website on Nov 8 - admitted last week that he had committed the offence because he wanted to "test (the Istana site) for vulnerabilities".

"Such acts are like someone coming into your home uninvited. They snoop around, leave their mark or steal your valuables. They damage your property, and violate your personal privacy," said Dr Yaacob. "At the minimum, hacking inconveniences the government and the public. But it can also damage computer systems, cause uncertainty and create havoc in society and at its worst, even endanger lives. We can see this from other news reports about the harmful impact that hacking has caused in other countries. "

The Istana hacking incident was flagged by the police on on Nov 12 - the same day James Raj Arokiasamy, 35, the alleged hacker said to be behind the "The Messiah" pseudonym, was charged in court for hacking into the website of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council on Oct 28. The police did not identify Mr Moo, 42, or student Melvin Teo, 17 - the second man being questioned over the case incident - but revealed that two suspects were involved in the Istana cyber intrusion, along with two others who allegedly hacked into the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) website on the same day.

The two pairs are not connected to each other and did not act in concert but they had "exploited a vulnerability of those sites to display pages from other sources", according to the police. Investigations against James Raj, Mr Moo, Mr Teo and the two brothers pair who are connected to the PMO incident - Mohammad Asyiq Tahir, 21, and Mohammad Azhar Tahir, 27, who were arrested and released on bail - are still ongoing.

"Going by the commentaries and reports and the many people I have talked to, it gives me great comfort to know that many Singaporeans have taken a stand against those who threatened our country's computer systems and websites - your support is much appreciated," said Dr Yaacob. "Many of our agencies, including (the Infocomm Development Authority), have worked hard in the past weeks to strengthen the security of our computer systems and websites... We should not condone such acts and I would like to urge Singaporeans to continue taking a stand against these threats."