International hacking group Anonymous claimed Thursday that it has attacked and defaced nearly 500 websites in China, including several belonging to the Chinese government.
In a statement posted on a Twitter account established in late March, Anonymous China said the targeted websites included those belonging to the Chinese government, its official agencies, trade groups and many others.
The hacking group also posted a list of 485 Chinese websites on the Pastebin website, claiming that they were hacked and defaced by its members in recent weeks. Separate Pastebin messages posted email addresses and other personal details stolen from the targeted websites when they were penetrated.
The group claimed that the hacking attacks were to protest against the Chinese government's Internet restrictions as well as the country's population. It also urged Chinese people to join the group to voice their own protests against the regime.
All of the hacked websites had a message criticizing the Chinese government posted on them. The message in English read: "Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you. With no mercy."
The Chinese government is yet to respond officially to the claims made by the hacking group. While some of the websites listed by the group remained closed on Thursday with error messages posted on them, some of them were working normally.
Anonymous came into prominence in late 2010 after breaching websites belonging to several Internet services and online payment providers who cut their ties with whistle-blower website WikiLeaks, including MasterCard and PayPal.
WikiLeaks, a website that publishes leaked classified information online, had earlier published thousands of confidential cables sent by U.S. embassies across the world as well as secret documents relating to wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is currently on trial in Britain over his possible extradition to Sweden on sex crime charges.
Anonymous subsequently stopped attacking websites of companies that severed their links with WikiLeaks and began targeting websites of several governments, including that of the United States, Britain and some other EU nations. Dozens of suspected Anonymous members have already been arrested on both sides of the Atlantic in the resulting crackdown.
by RTT Staff Writer
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