Singapore PM's website hacked by 'Anonymous' activist group

Mocking messages and pictures uploaded by 'Anonymous' internet freedom campaigners

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 November, 2013, 10:04pm
UPDATED : Friday, 08 November, 2013, 10:40pm

The websites of Singapore's president and prime minister have been hacked after it vowed to crack down on activist group Anonymous, which is demanding greater internet freedom in the city-state, officials confirmed yesterday.

A "subpage" of the website of the Istana, the official residence of President Tony Tan, was "compromised", telecommunications officials said.

The hacking happened about an hour after Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's website displayed mocking messages and pictures from Anonymous, which is demanding the scrapping of rules requiring Singapore news websites to obtain annual licences.

The rules, which came into effect in June, have sparked anger among some bloggers and activists who say they are designed to muzzle free expression.

While the defaced section of the Istana website had been take offline by early afternoon, screen grabs widely circulated on social media showed the image of a stern-looking elderly woman raising a middle finger.

It was accompanied by the words "JIAK LIAO BEE!", a mildly offensive term in Hokkien, referring to people who get paid for doing nothing.

Unlike the hacking of the prime minister's website, there was no indication of the involvement of Anonymous in the attack on the Istana page.

"Both the PMO (prime minister's office) and Istana main websites are still functioning, and restoration of the compromised subpages are under way. The matter is under investigation by IDA and the police," the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore said.

"We will continue to strengthen all government websites. This includes the checking and fixing of vulnerabilities and software patching," it said.

The defaced section of Lee's official website showed the message "ANONYMOUS SG WAS HERE BIATCH".

"It's great to be Singaporean today," read a headline next to Anonymous' trademark Guy Fawkes mask.

The double attacks came after Lee on Wednesday told local journalists that his government would "spare no effort" in going after Anonymous members who had threatened to wage a cyber-war against the government.

A person claiming to be from Anonymous last week threatened to mount the attacks to protest recent licensing rules for news websites.

In the video posted on YouTube on October 31, a person speaking with a computer-digitised voice and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask said the group would "go to war" with the Singapore government.

A day later, a person claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous hacked the official blog of The Straits Times newspaper's technology correspondent.