Hacking suspect charged in HKU mock poll attack

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 January, 2013, 4:07am

A suspected hacker accused of attacking a University of Hong Kong website running a mock "universal suffrage" poll for the chief executive election last year was charged yesterday after almost 10 months of investigation.

Police said the 28-year-old Hongkonger would appear in Fan Ling court for mention next Thursday, charged with attempted criminal damage.

Another suspect, aged 17, arrested with the defendant in March, was freed unconditionally after investigation, police said.

The cyberattack on the system of the university's public opinion programme took place shortly before the 1,193-voter election that picked Leung Chun-ying to serve as the chief executive until 2017.

The university reported a suspected "distributed denial-of-service" attack - in which multiple systems flood a targeted system - to police.

The organisers reported up to a million hits per second on their system, which was capable of handling just a couple of dozen hits at a time.

As the organisers had blocked overseas access to the system, they were sure the attacks originated locally.

The police commercial crime bureau seized computer equipment they believed was used in the attack.

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.

Only 17 per cent of them supported Leung, while a majority - more than 54.6 per cent - cast blank votes in an apparent attempt to protest against what they saw as an undemocratic election.