International hackers strike

International hackers strike

Anonymous is a collective, known to have members in the US and Europe. This file photo shows Anonymous members during a controversy over the Church of Scientology in the United States. (Photo by Creative Commons licence, via Wikipedia)
Anonymous is a collective, known to have members in the US and Europe. This file photo shows Anonymous members during a controversy over the Church of Scientology in the United States. (Photo by Creative Commons licence, via Wikipedia)

The international hacking collective called Anonymous declared cyberwar on the Thai government Thursday over its policy to consolidate a single internet gateway.

The main target of the attack was CAT Telecom Plc, the state-owned company which has been designated by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and the cabinet to control the future gateway.

Early Friday, Twitter accounts apparently operated by Anonymous members showed parts of what it said were thousands of CAT customer accounts, including logins, passwords and personal IDs including Thai government ID names and numbers.

The CAT website was taken off the internet for several hours late Thursday. CAT's home page, cattelecom.com, was back online early Friday.

While authorities insisted the single gateway was just being studied, some officials gave conflicting accounts and official cabinet resolution documents clearly showed it was more than just an idea.   

TelecomAsia, a telecommunications news website, also said it had received "a set of leaked documents" showing new details on the gateway project.

"TelecomAsia has received a set of leaked documents that would suggest the Single Gateway project has been a priority and pushed by the highest levels of the army for years," Don Sambandaraksa, the Southeast Asia correspondent of the website, wrote on Thursday.

It listed documents dated as early as 2006, allegedly showing that the military has been deeply involved in a project for an "offensive defence" division to control the internet in Thailand.

According to Mr Don, "One slide in particular listed target media that needed to be put under surveillance - Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Wordpress, Blogger, Flickr, Instagram and Tumblr." Other "unfriendly" media included the Thai internet forum board Pantip.com. The only messaging service mentioned was Line, he said.

The earlier version of this article wrongly stated that Mr Don had received the leaked documents from Anonymous. In fact, he did not receive them, nor has he in any way been in contact with Anonymous.



EARLIER REPORT

Anonymous, the international network of internet activists and hackers, has launched "Operation Single Gateway" targeting the Thai government, amid concerns that the military regime's plan to tighten control of the internet is still alive.

The group announced the campaign in a statement on its Twitter account, @anonymousasia.

"We saw the situation in Thailand for the past months going too far, restricting basic access to freedom of speech, protests and basic human rights against anyone who criticised the Thai Junta," the statement said.

"The latest project of the Thai military government is to deploy a single gateway in order to control, intercept and arrest any persons not willing to follow the Junta orders and your so-called moral," said Anonymous, whose slogan is: "You can arrest us, but you can't arrest an idea".

News of the proposal for a single gateway emerged last month in a leaked cabinet document. One of the aims of the "Great Firewall of Thailand", as critics dubbed it, would be to help authorities curb "inappropriate" content including lese majeste.

The public, the IT industry and businesses condemned the plan, saying that not only would it curb freedom of speech but also that it would lead to slower internet services, higher costs and economic losses. No IT companies would be interested in investing in Thailand despite the country's stated aim to promote a digital economy, business leaders said.

The Anonymous statement also criticised the appointment of an army officer to head state-run CAT Telecom.

"It is unacceptable that you promote your own people, army executives at the head of the largest telecommunication operator: CAT Telecom. Any corporations or individuals helping to deploy this single gateway will be targeted by any electronic means," the statement said.

Col Sanpachai Huvanandana, the new CAT Telecom CEO, said earlier this week that CAT was pushing ahead with a rebranded single gateway, claiming it would reduce costs for Thailand’s internet service providers.

The army also announced on Tuesday that it would establish a new cyber warfare unit to counter growing cyber threats.

Gen Sommai Kaotira, the supreme commander of the Royal Thai Armed Forces, had said that the new unit would comprise all three armed forces and the police. He added that the unit was part of a broader five-year roadmap.

Although authorities have said recently that the single gateway plan would be scrapped, activists say it could always be revived unless a clear, formal commitment is made to abandon it.

@F5CyberArmy, a group of Thai gamers, posted around 6pm that CAT Telecom has been compromised. It showed what it claimed to be a list of CAT customer data.


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