International Hackers group calling themselves Anonymous have struck Thailand’s government run CAT Telecom agency and published sensitive information, amid uncertainty over the government’s plan to establish a single internet gateway for the country.
The Anonymous hackers group gained access to the systems of state-run CAT Telecom Thursday, according to posts on a Twitter account apparently run by the group’s members on Friday.
The group has expressed concern that the junta still plans to tighten its control over the internet, despite saying earlier that the plan had been shelved. Critics say establishing a single government-controlled line would allow for easier monitoring of users and content by the authorities.
Thai hackers in September attacked government websites in protest.They published what appeared to be personal account information of customers early Friday, and brought down the CAT website for several hours.The attackers also accessed documents that demonstrate along-standing strategy by the military to establish potential control over the internet, a news report said.
Thailand’s Single Gateway project
The TelecomAsia news site said it had received documents dated 2006 showing the army’s plan for an information warfare unit, and listing social media to be selected as surveillance targets, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and WordPress.
The report did not mention any plan for the single gateway, but said the documents “could suggest the Single Gateway project has been a priority and pushed by the highest levels of the army for years.”
Deputy Premier General Prawit Wongsuwon said on October 15 that there was no fixed plan for such a gateway. But CAT Telecom this week announced it was putting the infrastructure in place, re-branding the project from “single gateway” to “national gateway.” It would turn Thailand into a digital hub, it said.
The military junta has been criticized by local and international organizations for restrictions on freedom of expression and of the press, and on public criticism of its government.
On September 30, simultaneous denial-of-service attacks were launched on several government websites by thousands of users protesting against the planned central gateway, and an online petition against it gathered 100,000 names.
Who are hacktivist group Anonymous
The group has been described as a decentralized online collective with no particular political affiliation. Anonymous rallies around causes such as opposing censorship and government control and promoting freedom of speech. In the past, it has expressed support for the Occupy movement and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks.
The worldwide group is believed to include anyone who wants to join; its members being referred to as ‘anons’.
A signature characteristic of Anonymous is the Guy Fawkes mask, portrayed in the dystopian novel and film ‘V for Vendetta’, in which an anarchist anti-hero wearing the mask fights against a fascist, white supremacist government. Even beyond the internet, sympathisers of the movement have sported the Guy Fawkes at rallies around the world.
Another attribute of the group is the use of voice changers or text-to-speech programmes that let anons mask their voice in video messages.
Anonymous does not use any verified social media handles, with multiple factions using portals such as the ‘AnonNews’ website and Twitter account for disseminating the group’s motives and campaigns.