'Hacking spree' brings down gov't websites

Screenshot of the Attorney General's Chambers website after it was hacked with the word `Owned' on the image. (Right) Screenshot of the hacker's twitter account shows a listing of hacked Brunei government websites. Picture: BT

MORE than a dozen government websites were taken down as authorities sought to determine how they were hacked yesterday.

"We can confirm some government websites have been compromised," said a E-government National Centre (EGNC) spokesperson yesterday afternoon at 4pm. He stated that the specifics of which websites had been taken down were still being investigated. "We are still going through the logs on all our servers," he said at that time.

At approximately 8 to 9 am, a group calling themselves HighTech Brazil HackTeam posted tweets claiming that they had hacked more than a dozen .gov.bn websites, which included the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC), the Department of Electrical Services, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Information Department and the Prime Minister's Office.

Prior to the attack on Bruneian cyberspace, the group had struck a large array of different sites including sites listed under Russian and Brazilian domain name spaces, as well as sites with .org domain names. The group had posted at least 128 tweets, most taking credit for the defacement of websites.

In response, the EGNC spokesperson said that they have taken down the servers to review the backend of their systems. "At the moment, we need to know the specifics of the vulnerability that was exploited, and from there, we will know what actions to take".

When asked by The Brunei Times what actions could be taken to prevent further attacks, the spokesperson replied that they are currently "Beefing up" their security at EGNC, working with oversea consultants on the issue.

One of the proposals to prevent future website hacking was to move all government websites to a 'central hosting'. "At the moment, many of the websites are on different platforms and are being managed differently," he explained that if they were to move all the websites onto 'one platform', they would be able to focus resources in security in one place as oppose to multiple locations.

Two weeks ago, the Ministry of Industry and Primary Resources website had been defaced by another group calling themselves "The Brothers". In January 2011, the Ministry of Development Website was also made inaccessible to the public. Other various government websites had also been randomly targeted by various groups over the years.

Some members of the public had been affected by the hacked sites. A staff at a law firm who wished to be known as 'William', said he wanted to access the AGC website to do some research. He had previously heard about the hacking attempts on other government websites but did not think about it until he himself had to use the website.

Instead of being able to research the laws of Brunei Darussalam, he encountered the picture of a green-haired 'anime' girl.

Also displayed were the words nos somos, which means Spanish for "We are," followed by the words "Otrasher - no\one - Crazyduck".

One other website which was also affected was reading-culture.gov.bn, which was a survey meant to gauge the reading habits of Bruneians.

One member of the facebook reading community, B:Read, expressed her dismay. "That's horrible. What point did they try to prove on doing that?" she said, stating that the hackers were "being childish" and it "shows their immature mindset". - Additional reporting by Leo Kasim

The Brunei Times

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