Seventy official sites targeted by hackers ‘partly from other regions’ who declared ‘cyberwar’ after tear gas was used on Occupy protesters
Eleven people have been arrested over cyberattacks on more than 70 government websites this month after hackers warned of retaliation for the use of tear gas on democracy protesters.
The cyberattacks are believed to have been directed under the banner of Anonymous, a brand adopted by hackers and activists around the globe.
No information was changed or stolen, nor were the government’s online services affected significantly, Secretary for Commerce and Economic Development Greg So Kam-leung told lawmakers yesterday.
Attackers made the sites intermittently inaccessible through a flood of access requests, he said.
“Attacks launched by the hackers’ group originated partly from Hong Kong, and partly from other regions,” So said.
“Since any internet user can join Anonymous, [the attackers] could have originated from anywhere in the world and it is hard to find out their nationalities.”
Police had arrested eight men and three women, aged 13 to 39, on suspicion of accessing computers with criminal or dishonest intent, he said.
On October 2, web users identifying themselves as Anonymous hackers declared “cyberwar” on the government and police force after tear gas was fired at Occupy Central demonstrators late last month.
So told a Legislative Council meeting that more than 70 official sites were made temporarily inaccessible by so-called distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. During such attacks, website infrastructure is overwhelmed by a huge bombardment of traffic, overloading servers and slowing down the site’s functionality. So stressed that security was not compromised.
In contrast, hundreds of phone numbers and email addresses of the Ningbo Free Trade Zone and a job-search site run by the Changxing county administration, both in Zhejiang province, were exposed by Anonymous this month, apparently in support of the protesters. The data also included individual IP addresses and names.
So said hackers had hit some local websites as well, but did not have a significant impact on the city’s economic activities.
Lawmakers asked if the hacking was related to Occupy and the alleged involvement of “external forces” in the movement.
So said it could not be linked to any specific country as many computers originating from different places were involved. Police were investigating further.
The website of pro-democracy newspaper Apple Daily has also been the target of cyberattacks in recent weeks, coinciding with a blockade of its offices in Tseung Kwan O by pro-Beijing protesters.
No group has claimed responsibility for those cyberattacks, which followed similar attempts to make the Apple Daily website inaccessible in June when Occupy held an electoral reform “referendum”.