Bloomberg News

Malaysia State Websites Disrupted as Cyber Attacks Spread

June 16, 2011

(Updates latest number of attacks in second paragraph.)

June 16 (Bloomberg) -- Dozens of Malaysian websites, mostly belonging to the government, became inaccessible after hackers threatened to sabotage portals in protest of the Southeast Asian nation’s online censorship policies.

A total 91 websites were attacked by unidentified hackers starting 11:30 p.m. local time yesterday, of which 51 were state-linked, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission said in a statement today. Of these, 76 sites have been recovered, it said.

The regulator “has been making concerted efforts to mitigate the attacks around the clock and will continue with other enforcement agencies and security experts as well as service providers to monitor the situation,” the commission said in a separate statement.

The incident shows the wave of cyber attacks that have disrupted computer systems at the International Monetary Fund, Sony Corp., Lockheed Martin Corp. and Citigroup Inc. in the past three months are spreading. A group calling itself Anonymous posted a warning June 14 on Google Inc.’s YouTube it planned to sabotage Malaysian state portals.

“The messages left by the hackers since last night were all about their dissatisfaction over the government’s ban on 10 file-sharing sites,” Mohamad Khairi Osman, an information technology officer at Universiti Sains Malaysia’s engineering campus, said in a telephone interview. “These hackers didn’t do it just for the sake of hacking. They want the Malaysian government to notice their frustration.”

‘Local’ Hackers

Most of the attacks on government websites were carried out by unidentified local hackers, said Khairi, who has monitored a blog they created to share updates.

As of 6:15 p.m., the government’s main portal (www.malaysia.gov.my) was among those remaining inaccessible, along with Sabah tourism’s website. The police has leads to the potential culprits, Bernama reported, citing Deputy Inspector- General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar.

Disrupting network services is a “serious” offense punishable by law, the commission said. “We do not expect the overall recovery to these websites to take long as most websites have already recovered from the attack,” it said.

Anonymous earlier took credit for attacking sites belonging to the Turkish government and companies including Mastercard Inc and Visa Inc. Another group called Lulz Security yesterday claimed via Twitter that it took down the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s unclassified public website. The CIA’s portal couldn’t be accessed at about 7 p.m. Washington time.

--Editors: Barry Porter, Young-Sam Cho

To contact the reporters on this story: Gan Yen Kuan in Kuala Lumpur at ykgan@bloomberg.net; Manirajan Ramasamy in Kuala Lumpur at rmanirajan@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Barry Porter at bporter10@bloomberg.net; Young-Sam Cho in Tokyo at ycho2@bloomberg.net.


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