After weeks of denial and an almost total blackout on mainstream media, attacks on Thai government websites by the Anonymous hacking collective have finally reached a tipping point. This morning, Prime Minister and junta leader General Prayut Chanocha, snapped and swore to stop the hacking and said that anyone breaking the law would be immediately arrested on sight.
One Anon who was leading the first wave of attacks told Disruptive.Asia, “Aha, finally a statement, I thought the government was going to remain poker-faced and hope the media was going to go along with it.”
Over the last week Anonymous mainly through the AnonPlus group has hacked and defaced dozens of government websites. State telco CAT Telecom had a data breach and 1,200 users doxxed on 14 Jan and on 18 Jan, there was a major leak doxxing names and positions from the Customs Department.
One Anon with a sense of irony leaked documents from the National Intelligence Agency on how to handle secret government documents and posted them to Twitter.
The DDOS attacks against the Revenue Department are also continuing.
What has changed though was how the leaks are now happening on the open web, after the first week of doxxing on the dark web on .onion sites perhaps to gain attention and visibility.
The #opSingleGateway hashtag started years ago in protest to the single Internet gateway mass surveillance project that the Prime Minister once dismissed as a ‘clerical error’ and a ‘misunderstanding’ despite issuing four orders expediting the project. More recently it was revived to protest the passage of the draconian Computer Crime Act and is now caught on with general anti-junta activists.
Another development was a TechCrunch story on how Facebook was collaborating with the junta to censor regime critics in Thailand. However, this is hardly new. A year ago at the Thai Netizen Network’s 2015 end-of-year conference, Sirikan Charoensiri, a human rights defender from the Thai Lawyers for Human Rights group, stated that while Microsoft was all too eager to provide military prosecution with information through official channels,
Facebook, too, seemed to have many insiders happily leaking information about dissidents to the military prosecution with officials at the company turning a blind eye on these human rights abuses. More recently, in October, Sirikarn herself was charged with sedition and with disobeying police orders when she resisted a police search of her car to seize her clients’ documents.
Prayut’s comments would suggest that he still thinks the hackers are local while it is clear to anyone following the #opSingleGateway hashtag on Twitter that AnonPlus seems to be hacking websites in repressive regimes the whole world over, and not just Thailand. Speaking just before Christmas Pol. Gen. Chakthip Chaijinda, commissioner-general of the Royal Thai Police, dismissed the hacks as a mere pimple not even a flesh wound and said the kids carrying out the attacks were misled by outsiders. Police paraded one of the hackers complete with guns, ammunition, drugs and a book on network security in front of media and he now faces 17 years in jail if convicted.
None of the prominent Anons involved in #opSingleGateway had known of this ‘hacker’ before the arrest and many said he was just a convenient scapegoat. The ferocity of attacks quickly escalated after that but has been ignored by politicians and mainstream media until today.