Hacktivist group Anonymous has finally turned its attention to the People’s Republic of China, claiming to have defaced more than 480 web sites over the past few days including government sites, whilst urging Chinese hackers to join its cause.
The group apparently began its campaign in the region with the launch of its AnonymousChina Twitter account, which seems to have begun tweeting on 30 March.
In a list posted to Pastebin, the group claimed to have defaced over 480 sites, including several belonging to regional Chinese government organisations in areas such as Chengdu and Dalian.
In several separate posts Anonymous also claimed to have hacked and leaked user names, password details, phone numbers and emails from various government sites.
All the sites on the list we tried now appear to have been taken down, although the Wall Street Journal managed to take a screen grab showing the following message in English:
Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall. So expect us because we do not forgive, never. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you. With no mercy.
According to the WSJ, the message also contained a link to an Anonymous site detailing how Chinese web users can bypass the Great Firewall, although at the time of writing this site appears to have been killed.
Not content with that, the group also posted another message to Pastebin, urging the Chinese people to revolt.
“So, we are writing this message to tell you that you should protest, you should revolt yourself protesting and who has the skills for hacking and programming and design and other ‘computer things’ come to our IRC,” the note read.
This is the first major Anonymous campaign targeting China, which is somewhat strange given the government’s hardline stance on web censorship and human rights - two issues guaranteed to get the group's attention.
In fact, the hacking of several minor regional government sites is unlikely to cause much consternation at Communist Party headquarters, and the group’s messages on Pastebin and posted on the defaced sites will largely have failed to reach their audience given that they were written in English.
Anonymous seems to be working on the latter issue, however, having sent a tweet out calling for help from would-be translators.
Given China’s strict web controls on social media, it’s unlikely that the group will be able to broadcast its message on platforms such as Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo, so for the time being it’ll have to stick to Twitter – banned in China – and defacing web sites. ®