Pair held over hacking of mock poll

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 26 March, 2012, 12:00am


Police last night questioned a man and a youth arrested over an attack by hackers on a computer system being used in a mock election for the chief executive.

The pair, both Hongkongers and aged 17 and 28, were arrested on Saturday evening by detectives from the force's commercial crime bureau at premises in Kowloon and the New Territories. The pair were later released on bail.

Police did not release further information about the pair or give any indication of their possible motives.

They are suspected of accessing the computer system at the University of Hong Kong with criminal and dishonest intent. Police also seized some computer equipment they believe was used in the attack.

HKU's public opinion programme, which was organising the citywide public poll, reported a suspected 'distributed denial-of-service' attack to police at about 1.30pm on Saturday. The poll's organisers said their system came under attack when it was tested on Wednesday and again on Friday, the day of the mock election, in which all adult permanent residents could have their say on the chief executive race.

The organisers reported up to one million hits per second on their system during the attacks. The system was only capable of handling a couple of dozen hits at a time. As they had blocked overseas access to the system, they were sure the attacks originated locally.

Despite the hacking, more than 220,000 people cast votes in the mock poll. More than 85,000 voted at designated polling stations across the city, about 66,000 via a smartphone application and about 72,000 online.

The poll was supposed to end on Friday but was extended to Saturday because of the attacks. There were long queues at polling stations. Several voters said they were concerned about the hacking and decided to go to the polling stations instead.

The poll results were released just nine hours before 1,193 Election Committee members cast their ballots to pick the chief executive.

Leung Chun-ying, who won yesterday with 689 votes, secured more votes than either of his rivals in the mock election too. But only 17 per cent supported him, with a majority - more than 54.6 per cent - casting blank votes, apparently in protest at the narrow choice of candidates and the poll's undemocratic nature.


The proportion of people in the mock vote who cast blank ballots. Only 17 per cent backed Leung Chun-ying