Anti-computer law hackers launched cyber attacks Monday on at least six government websites to protest the amended computer crime law, warning another major one was being planned for Tuesday.
Civilians Against Single Gateway Group called on its supporters to join the attack targeting the websites of the Defence Ministry and the Ministry of Digital Economy from 1pm to 9pm.
Such an attack, known as distributed denial of service, involves sending so many requests to a targeted website simultaneously that it crashes.
The group claimed that a major hack attack was being planned for Tuesday but did not provide any details.
The group also said that it had enlisted support from several activists affiliated with the so-called Anonymous hacker group.
An Error 404 (meaning the web page is not available) was reported when attempting to access the Ministry of Defence’s website http://mod.go.th at 2.30pm Monday while the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society’s site at mict.go.th was briefly unavailable at 4pm.
At 4pm, it was reported that several other government websites could not be accessed. Among them were the Royal Gazette site at www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th; the junta’s public site at www.thaigov.go.th; the prime minister’s office site, www.opm.go.th, and the National Security Council’s public website, www.nsc.go,th.
An official responsible for www.ratchakitcha.soc.go.th said the website had experienced some problems since the morning and it was being fixed.
However, it appeared that the stricken websites were down from time to time.
Defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantrawanich admitted a group of people tried to hack into the ministry’s network but the attack did not cause “much” damage.
“We detected attempts to hack into the Defence Ministry’s website. They failed because we have a system to defend it,” he said.
The defence ministry’s website was the only one of the six known hacked sites that was still unreachable on Tuesday morning. (The site returned after 8am Tuesday.)
Maj Gen Kongcheep said hacking into a government website was not the right approach to solve a problem and such a move was simply due to a lack of proper understanding about the computer crime law.
He insisted the amended computer crime law, which was passed by the National Legislative Assembly (NLA) on Friday, was not related to the controversial single gateway concept lambasted by critics as a government tool to wrest control of the flow of information online.
Maj Gen Kongcheep also called on the group and its supporters to scrap their planned Tuesday attack while giving his assurances that government agencies had ways to effectively handle any hacking.
He said hack attacks would only make state agencies more vigilant.
“As for reports that foreigners have joined the attacks, I would like to remind them that doing so is unlawful. Attacks on the financial, banking, transport and other systems will cause damage to the Thai public,” he said.
Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda urged critics to try to understand that the computer crime law has nothing to do with the single gateway idea.
Asked if a planned cyber attack would affect the Interior Ministry’s public service such as ID card renewal, he said authorities concerned were trying their best to protect the system.
Gen Anupong also stressed that nothing good would come from such hacking.
NLA president Pornpetch Wichitcholchai appealed to the civil sector to support a data privacy bill designed to deal with personal data breaches.
“I’m urging civic groups to help push the bill governing personal data protection. We’re concerned about personal data vulnerabilities and this law should give us a tool to better protect data privacy,” he said.
Mr Pornpetch defended the amendment to the computer crime legislation, saying it was designed to reduce the power of investigators while maintaining that of the courts to ensure computer crime-related cases proceed with transparency.