Thai po­lice charge man in hack­ing at­tacks on govt sites

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

Po­lice in Thai­land yes­ter­day charged a sus­pect with par­tic­i­pat­ing in re­cent hack­ing at­tacks on gov­ern­ment com­put­ers that were billed as a protest against a re­stric­tive law gov­ern­ing internet use.

Nat­danai Kongdee, 19, was one of nine peo­ple ar­rested in con­nec­tion with the at­tacks that blocked ac­cess to some web­sites and ac­cessed non-pub­lic files, Deputy Prime Min­is­ter Prawit Wong­suwan said.

Po­lice said he was a low-level hacker rather than a leader and had con­fessed to par­tic­i­pat­ing in the at­tacks. They said he be­longed to sev­eral on­line groups spe­cial­iz­ing in hack­ing ac­tiv­i­ties.

Nat­danai was present at yes­ter­day’s news con­fer­ence but did not speak. He was charged with gain­ing unau­tho­rized ac­cess to po­lice data, along with il­le­gal pos­ses­sion of firearms and mar­i­juana, al­legedly found when po­lice searched his house.

The le­gal sta­tus of the other peo­ple ar­rested was not ex­plained. Groups pro­mot­ing the at­tacks say they are in protest of pas­sage of re­vi­sions to Thai­land’s Com­puter Crime Act, which would re­strict free­dom of speech and fa­cil­i­tate tar­get­ing po­lit­i­cal dis­si­dents. The new law would al­low Thai au­thor­i­ties to in­ter­cept pri­vate com­mu­ni­ca­tion and to cen­sor web­sites with­out a court or­der.

In ad­di­tion to the leak­ing of doc­u­ments, gov­ern­ment sites have been sub­ject to dis­trib­uted de­nial of ser­vice, or DDoS, at­tacks, where ac­cess is de­nied by over­load­ing the on­line server with re­quests. A Face­book group en­cour­aged a sim­ple ver­sion of such at­tacks by sug­gest­ing peo­ple re­peat­edly reload them by press­ing the F5 key.

“He (Nat­danai) was naive to be­lieve the (Face­book) group and hack into the sys­tem,” Siripong Tim­ula of the po­lice’s tech­nol­ogy de­part­ment said. The Face­book group, with the name Cit­i­zens Against Sin­gle Gate­way, ear­lier this month called for a “cy­ber­war.”

Its name re­flects ac­tivists’ con­cerns about plans for a sin­gle gate­way through which all in­ter­na­tional internet traf­fic would pass. The gov­ern­ment claims such a sys­tem is nec­es­sary for na­tional se­cu­rity, but op­po­si­tion from many sec­tors has made the gov­ern­ment eva­sive about whether it plans to im­ple­ment a sin­gle gate­way. The group on Dec. 19 claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for tem­po­rar­ily bring­ing down the Thai de­fense ministry’s web­site.

Since then, it has claimed to have brought down web­sites for Thai­land’s mil­i­tary, cus­toms de­part­ment, po­lice, for­eign af­fairs ministry and ad­di­tional gov­ern­ment web­sites. Other hack­ers, op­er­at­ing as part of the in­for­mal ac­tivist net­work Anony­mous, have been post­ing data they say is from gov­ern­ment com­put­ers. Po­lice said yes­ter­day that their sys­tems are still “well pro­tected” and that the at­tacks con­sti­tute mi­nor hacks. Prime Min­is­ter Prayuth Chan-ocha said, “If we do not have any laws or write it down to make it clearer and if they con­tinue to do this, what can we do?” Should hack­ers sim­ply be al­lowed to poke into per­sonal data, he asked re­porters rhetor­i­cally.

“We’ve talked about it many times. Ev­ery­thing is passed. Talk about some­thing else,” said Prayuth, who is noted for his brusque man­ner of speak­ing. — AP

BANGKOK: Nat­danai Kongdee (third from right) is in­ter­viewed at the po­lice head­quar­ters in Bangkok yes­ter­day. Po­lice in Thai­land have charged 19-year-old Kongdee in con­nec­tion with a se­ries of re­cent hack­ing at­tacks on gov­ern­ment com­put­ers that were billed as a protest against a re­stric­tive law gov­ern­ing internet use. —AP

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