In a campaign that began late last month, individuals claiming to be from the hacker collective Anonymous have hacked hundreds of Chinese government websites. The hackers said their cyber crusade against the Chinese government is an attempt to overthrow the “vile” Chinese regime.
Just after the collective’s inaugural hack against a government-owned website, twitter account @AnonymousChina began detailing a series of attacks against more Chinese government websites, protesting internet censorship and human rights violations in China.
Today, Reuters spoke with a self-professed participant in the hacks who reasserted the group's ambitions to continue their hacking spree.
"First we want to alert the Chinese government that we aren't afraid, and we are going to show the truth and fight for justice," said f0ws3r to Reuters, an individual contacted through the AnonymousChina twitter account. He went on to add that the collective was planning further attacks and that they were attempting to bring down the “Great Firewall of China.”
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The Chinese government blocks access to many social networking websites, including Twitter and Facebook, citing a need to maintain social stability. Anonymous said that internet censorship is an important motivating factor for the hacks.
Anonymous China says it has hacked more than 500 websites since March 30, adding their victim's URLs to an ever-expanding list that have fallen in the collective’s politically-motivated cyber-war. Many of these attacks involve replacing the homepage’s usual content with a message from Anonymous.
"Your government controls the Internet in your country and strives to filter what it considers a threat for it,” read many of the messages posted onto the defaced websites.
"Each of you suffers from the tyranny of that regime which knows nothing about you. We are with you. With you here and now. But also tomorrow and the coming days so promising for your freedom. We will never give up. Don't loose [sic] hope, the revolution begins in the heart. The silence of all other countries highlights the lack of democracy and justice in China. It's unbearable. We must all fight for your freedom,” read other messages, perhaps implying that the hacks are being carried out by several different individuals or groups acting independently of one another.
As early as yesterday, the AnonymousChina twitter account claimed that the Great Firewall of China “will be dead soon” amid a great deal of other tweets containing the URLs of hacked websites. Most websites targeted by the collective have returned to normal after only a few hours of defacement.
While the hacked websites will likely only incur relatively small financial losses, the damage to their reputation could be greater. Even if hackers fail to bring down the Great Firewall of China, and the odds of doing so are against them, China faces a new form of political speech that is difficult to stop.