Singapore on alert for cyber attacks after websites hacked

Update 7 Nov 2013: Singapore vows to hunt down Anonymous hackers

Hacker 'The Messiah' claims attack on Singapore govt sites, repeats ‘Anonymous’ cyber threat
A screengrab from the video, purportedly uploaded by "Anonymous", features a masked person speaking in a scrambled voice, warning of an imminent attack on the government. (Screengrab from video)
Yahoo Newsroom - A screengrab from the video, purportedly uploaded by "Anonymous", features a masked person speaking in a scrambled voice, warning of an imminent attack on the government. (Screengrab from video)

A reply from an email address left by alleged hacker “The Messiah” claimed that members of the activist internet group Anonymous worked together Saturday to temporarily take down websites of the Singapore government

About 19 government sites suffered an outage that day, but the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said on Monday that a routing problem and hardware failure were the causes of the disruption.

It reportedly insisted that “at no point were these websites the target of cyber attacks”

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Over 50 Government-related sites ‘under maintenance’?

It appears that the majority of Singapore’s government-related websites are currently and simultaneously undergoing “planned maintenance” or experiencing “hardware failure and routing issues”, including the website of the Prime Minister’s Office.

TR Emeritus (TRE) was alerted at about 10:45pm today (6 Nov) to the inaccessibility of most government-related websites and was able to confirm the following to be offline or having issues as of 11:00pm:

Note: To visit these websites without leaving TRE, right click on the link, then click “Open in New Tab” or “Open in New Window”.
For an explaination of the various error codes, please click here to open a new window.
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TRS received a tip off from a local school teacher showing that the standard operating procedure when dealing with a hacked website is to announce “maintenance”.

This is a photo of an email announcement sent out by MOE to various school departments in response to the threats made by Anonymous.

The announcement states clearly that security measures are being increased in response to the targeting of Singapore websites by Anonymous.

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Singapore on alert for cyber attacks after websites hacked
A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture. REUTERS/Kacper Pempel/Files

(Reuters) - Singapore's government has been put on heightened alert for cyber attacks after people claiming to be from international hacking collective Anonymous defaced several web sites in the city-state and threatened further action.

"Government agencies have been on heightened vigilance and have enhanced the security of their IT systems in response to the declared threats against the government's ICT infrastructure," the Infocommunications Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said in a statement. The comments came a day after hackers claiming links to Anonymous defaced dozens of websites belonging to Australian businesses and Philippine government agencies.

Several websites in the city-state have also been hacked over the past week, including one belonging to the town council of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's constituency and another belonging to a secondary airport.

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Singapore on alert for cyber attacks after websites hacked - The Economic Times
Singapore on alert for cyber attacks after websites hacked - Yahoo! News New Zealand

Seletar Airport website hacked
Seletar Airport website hacked

The website of Seletar Airport has become the latest to be hit by hackers - the second in three days.

At around 12.30pm on Sunday, the site showed a black and green background with an image in the middle resembling a skull wearing a hood.

It was back running less than 30 minutes later.

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Todayonline:Seletar Airport website hacked
Hardwarezone:Seletar Airport website hacked

Seletar Airport website hit by hackers on Sunday, IDA refuses to respond to press queries
Hardwarezone Forum, 4 Nov 2014
The website of Seletar Airport has become the latest to be hit by hackers - the second in three days.

At around 12.30pm on Sunday, the site showed a black and green background with an image in the middle resembling a skull wearing a hood.
It was back running less than 30 minutes later.

The Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) and Changi Airport Group, which manages Seletar Airport, could not respond to queries at press time. Full story

Seletar Airport website hacked - XIN MSN News

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IDA blames outage of Singapore government websites on ‘routing issues’, ‘hardware failure’

An incident report (embedded below) purportedly by the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) has determined that “routing problems” from an unnamed Internet Service Provider (ISP), along with the hardware failure of an internet router, were the causes of the massive outage that took down over 19 government websites last Saturday. The report did not state if human error or hackers were involved.

The document, uploaded by an unknown person, says that GDC1, an internet connection service used by many government websites, called for an urgent scheduled maintenance on November 1 from 1pm to 3pm to test “the implementation of a security solution for internet access”

However, things started to go wrong during the test. When the internet connection was swung from its primary to secondary link, a “routing problem” was discovered on the side of the Internet Service Provider, which caused the swing to fail.

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No Investigation Following Singapore Government's Websites Offline - Police

The Singapore Police Force (SPF) has clarified that there is no investigation going on following several government websites being down for some time on Saturday.

In its Facebook page Sunday, SPF said many news articles and online websites had reported that police were investigating the matter.

"However, police would like to clarify that this is inaccurate and there is no such investigation going on

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GOV websites under 'maintenance'

IDA wasn't willing to admit as much, but I thought many government websites that we down for maintenance yesterday were just using that as a cloak to harden vulnerable sites against hackers' attack.

ICA is up but the main GOV.SG is still not available. I am not bothering to check which ones are back online.

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Commentary: should maintenance bring down government websites for hours?

In a crisis, fear is sometimes as dangerous as the threat itself.

If more than a dozen Singapore government websites had actually been hacked yesterday afternoon, the agency involved in cyber security certainly won’t have helped matters by being so scant with information to the public.

In the end, the reason why the sites, which included ones for the Singapore Police Force and the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) itself, went down was because “technical difficulties” resulted in maintenance that took longer than expected.

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Hope It's Not Maintenance
IDA Facebook updates

On Saturday, more than a dozen Singapore government websites went down. After the online threat from hacking group “Anonymous”, most people thought this was the result of an online attack from the group. However the IDA (Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore) insist it's otherwise.

According to the IDA, the government websites went down not because of an attack but due to a planned maintenance. Most people met this with skepticism as this “planned maintenance” was not announced, it happened on a Saturday afternoon and it came just after the Strait Times newspaper website got hacked.

Now there’s 2 ways to look at this. Either the IDA is telling the truth; or they are not. Frankly, I rather hope they are not because if the IDA is telling the truth, this means that the Singapore government is so afraid of Anonymous that they rather take down their own websites than let it face an attack from the hacking group

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18 Singapore government websites taken down simultaneously for “planned maintenance”

More than a dozen Singapore government have been unaccessible as of 3pm today, according to a tip-off received by Tech in Asia. Some reports, however, said that the outage occurred as early as 1.30pm. It was initially unclear why these sites have been brought down, but the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) tweeted at 4.19pm that ”government websites are under planned maintenance and will be back ASAP.” 

However, the explanation was met with skepticism by internet users. They pointed out that Singaporeans were not informed about any scheduled server maintenance beforehand, which is the usual practice. It’s also unclear why the “maintenance” is held in the afternoon as opposed to off-peak hours like the middle of the night. They are also doubting the fact that all sites could be under maintenance simultaneously, suggesting the possibility of a DDOS attack, which is designed to bring down a site by overwhelming it with data requests. 

Furthermore, a spokesperson for the Singapore Police Force, whose website was affected, has “acknowledged the problem” and added that they are investigating it. There was no mention of a server maintenance.

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TechInAsia:19 Spore government websites taken down simultaneously for “planned maintenance”
TR Emeritus:All SG Govt sites under maintainance together?
SporeNewsAlternative:IDA claims all 16 gov websites were taken down for “planned maintenance”
New Nation:The Real Singapore applies censorship to The Messiah’s message, tempting fate
AsiaOne:Several SG government websites down since 1pm; IDA says it's planned
Channel News Asia:Government websites undergoing planned maintenance, says IDA
Straits Times:Some Government websites down due to 'planned maintenance': IDA

Thank you Anonymous for being the invisible hero to us Singaporeans!

At first glance, I may seem to be betraying my country be thanking the group anonymous for the threats it has made against the Singaporean government. But one has to look deeper to the overall picture to understand that such threats on the PAP government may be seen as a form of justice served to Singaporeans who can only watch as the unfair actions are forced down them. [The key here is that I have used the term “”PAP government” rather than “Singaporean Government”]

For years, Singaporeans have been subject to the lack of civil liberties while having two years of their prime taken away via conscription. But such suffering in the 70s and 80s was not still acceptable because the economy has experienced sustained growth while housing and cars remained affordable. Things started to change in the 90s but have taken a turn for the worse now; we are still subject to such oppression while the government is treating foreigners much better.

As part of the international occupy movement, your goals are very much against big corporations in the belief that such corporations oppress people. In Singapore, such economic oppression may perhaps come from the government. According to Wikipedia, such corporations produce as much as 60% of Singapore’s GDP while the government holding company owns a substantial amount of shares in key public companies. These span into areas such a public transport which has been overstrained and fares are continually increasing because on increasing pressure on

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Listen to mee siam

While I appreciate The Messiah's countless nights of cracking websites to help us not just to send a message but to make sure it was definitely received, his approach would make things worse for the same people who wished things could be better. As expected, the government used the attack threats to create a siege mentality among the people and urged them to fight against what they portrayed as cyber-terrorism. Most importantly, they made the people accept the fact that it would be war at all costs - at the cost of the people like you and me to be specific

Thus The Messiah can deface, deny-of-service of government websites or can even open a chain of porn sites in Lee Hsien Loong's laptop just about the time when Ho Ching is looking over his shoulders, it doesn't change a thing except to provoke a reaction from the government opposite to what we all hope for

The Messiah should not try to deliver any message to the government on behalf of the people. In our situation, the people are the ones who need a proper message injected into their indoctrinated heads so that we can think again. We, the people of Singapore, are the rightful bearer of the message and we will deliver it to the government ourselves, to be heard again

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The Cyber Attack on the Singaporean Government

OK much has been said in the last few days on the Anonymous Cyber Attack on the Singapore government's websites, I was waiting to see how the story develops before offering my perspective but given what has happened so far, I would like to offer some of my thoughts. Firstly, I think it is a storm in a teacup really. Many Singaporeans have overreacted to this as it is unprecedented, at least in Singapore. There won't be a revolution in Singapore any time soon. It is one thing to hack into Sun Ho's website, it is another to take on the Singapore government. Or is it?

After all, a website is just a website as far as these hackers are concerned. Some companies spend a lot more money on cyber security protecting their websites and the amount of money spent is often proportional to the risk of being hacked. This is not rocket science really. When I was in Indonesia earlier this year, I saw some beautiful houses where the rich people lived - these were protected by high fences and walls, razor wire, CCTV, elaborate alarm systems, guard dogs and often a security guard keeping intruders out.  Then there are the poor people who live in the slums and they don't even have a lock on their front door because they own so little there's nothing to steal. And then there's everything in between: the equivalent exists on the web. Some websites are a lot better protected than others.

Now given the number of Singaporean websites that got hacked today, such as the Ang Mo Kio Town Council website, it is clear that the level of security on these websites are not particularly high - but why should they be? It is not like the AMK Town Council website is likely to contain any kind of sensitive information (such as pertaining to defence, which would be detrimental to Singapore if it got into enemy's hands) - the hackers evidently went for a soft target because it was there. There are plenty of other soft targets as well, but one wonders what can be achieved by going for these soft targets? After all, what happened in the case of the AMK Town Council was that the website was taken offline for several hours during a weekend - it is a temporary and minor inconvenience at best.

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Not My Messiah

There are people and movements in Singaporeans that are willing to challenge the status quo and go to jail for their beliefs

Dr Chee Soon Juan has actively broken public assembly and speech laws and been to jail to draw attention to the lack of freedom of speech in Singapore. He has stood up for what he’s believed, put his name on the line, and done time in jail to make his point.

Whether you agree with the wisdom of what Dr Chee has done is up for debate, but few in Singapore would call him a coward.

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PAP must reflect why are Singaporeans cheering the hacks

When some anonymous hackers paralyzed Singapore gov.sg websites today, Singaporeans are not sensing a fear of what to come. It may be a direct cyber attack to the PAP government, yet Singaporeans are cheering. So loud it almost felt like National Day. For the first time in history, the PAP government is under the attacks of international anonymous hackers under a decentralized collective entity called Anonymous. It is technically inaccurate to call Anonymous a group because it has no leaders, organizational structure and anyone can simply perform a stunt like today and sign off “Anonymous” – so long it answers the people’s prayers.

And hell yeah did the international hackers hear Singaporeans’ prayers!

It was a sad day for PAP. Despite having so many SAF generals at helm, they did not know what to do. They attempted a SAF-style cover up, calling the series of DDOS attacks “planned maintenance”. But it is just painfully obvious. This is actually a repeat scene in V for Vendetta when V blew up the Parliament’s building and the state-controlled media actually called it a “planned demolition” (how convenient)

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8 signs The Messiah is a S’porean borrowing the Anonymous brand name

Besides the rhetoric being too local, the modus operandi is unlike the real Anonymous

A lot has gone down the last 18 hours since a video purportedly by someone called The Messiah — claiming to be part of hacktivist group, Anonymous — circulated widely online.

The person in the video had made a threat to the Singapore Government that an “aggressive cyber intrusion” is on its way come Nov. 5.

The strangest thing so far has to be this though: Far from being worried that Singapore will go down in a blaze of glory as we come under attack, Singaporeans online have been pretty excited, basking in a Hollywood, V For Vendetta vibe.

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Standing up against the Anonymous Legion

Well done. You’ve effectively posted a war threat against Singapore. A civil war to tear this nation apart.

The TRS claims to be the voices of the average Singaporean.

I am Singaporean. I too, believe that the government has areas in which improvement is needed

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There hasn’t been anything very interesting in the intervening months. Then “Anonymous” turns up.  I find it personally offensive, having been fan and voyeur of Anonymous since their brilliant war against the Church of Scientology five years ago. I’d like to think I would have noticed the chatter that precedes an Anon attack, but there has been none. And I really don’t think true-Anon can be so easily knocked off YouTube. This….is not the fearsome international Anon. The modus operandi is completely different, or perhaps I have studied one too many cases of terrorism.

The mask is also a bit of a giveaway. The Anon hackers don’t usually don the mask, and not so early in a campaign. Rather, the mask is usually worn by their mass supporters to demonstrate their solidarity ad reinforce the message. The mask is employed physically, not digitally. The symbol of the Anonymous network online is the suit, not the mask. This makes me suspect the people behind the “Anon” attacks so far are amateurs, and not the battle-hardened core that has admittedly faded in the past two years.

Another departure from the Anon playbook is the way they have declared themselves. Anon usually opens with a very public, devastating attack and DDOS swamp on very carefully-selected targets – heavily-secured sites that greatly embarrass the establishment but have little to no impact on the everyday lives of everyday people. This Anon-wannabe on the other hand has acted incrementally and for the most part picked on soft targets. The purposeful shock-and-awe against hardened government targets is missing, and frankly that’s the hallmark of a fearsome Anon assault. For example, they can easily penetrate this WordPress and destroy this blog, but that would hardly be an accomplishment.

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Dear Anonymous

I don’t know who you are but I know what you are – a troublemaker with not very powderful England. (My students beg to differ. They think your England is a cut above most online Hokkien vulgarity laden diatribes. But they still think you’re a clown.)

If you presume to speak for the rest of us, please go blow yourself up. You’ve done all of us a great disservice by making us look as bad as the G has always made us out to be. You wear a mask. You can’t even be bothered to give yourself a false name. You talk funny. Your vocabulary is limited to that of the rabid protestor – full of repression, oppression and suppression

You tout your hacking skills and boast of coming up against the FBI and other behemoths. You belittle our IDA. You threaten. You castigate. You are as arrogant as the G you seem to loathe. And you have the “ignorant nerve” (your England) to address us as “fellow Singaporeans”. I am a Singaporean and I have no fellow feeling towards someone/anyone who has undermined all the work some of us have done to push for more civic liberties, greater civil society involvement and a more engaged citizenry.

Talking about a revolution

There are two types of newspaper people and the media organisations that employ them.

The first type is those who have simply disappeared, who have been sued into non-existence, packed up and gone elsewhere or who still publish here but have been effectively gagged by distribution agreements.

The second type is the newspaper people still remaining – PAP people.  I’m not referring to balance or slant in favour of the PAP.  I am talking about absolute control over the Media Organisations’ very right to exist and absolute  control over management and hiring and firing through the Newspapers Printing and Presses Act. This Act is what makes our newspaper people, government people.

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We are Anonymous

– Yawning Bread: Hacker strikes fear among “good” citizens, part 2
– I on Singapore: “The Messiah”: Vigilantism the wrong way to achieve justice
– SGbangla: How the Anonymous Saga will Play Out
– Singapore Life & Times: Fighting a cause
– Anyhow Hantam: TNP’s Melvin Singh is an Idiot, but the ‘Messiah’ also got it Wrong
– Zit Seng’s Superwall: Leaked Report On Singapore Government Internet Outage
– Limpeh Is Foreign Talent: Hacking explained for the rest of us who are not IT experts
– A L V I N O L O G Y: “War” on Sg gov – Note from a regular IT dude
– My Singapore News: The mysteries of the Messiah
– Marry Thai Girl Singapore: IDA is Aware of the Anonymous Threat Video
– Icesabel: The Messiah
– New Nation: Shenton Way worker tell boss he’s undergoing ‘planned maintenance’
– TOC: Not My Messiah
– Breakfast Network: Yawning Bread: Hacker strikes fear among “good” citizens
– Singapore in General: Hacker strikes fear among “good” citizens
– Blogging for Myself: GOV websites under ‘maintenance’
– Wise Mental King: Is Anonymous even caring about the Messiah?
– Everything Also Complain: ST reporting Anonymous’ Messiah to the police
– Limpeh Is Foreign Talent: The Cyber Attack on the Singaporean Government: part 1
– DKSG: Singapore Gov website under planned maintenance on Saturday afternoon
– Musings From the Lion City: Hope It’s Not Maintenance
– Barry’s Blog: Dear Anonymous
– Chinaporean: Thank you Anonymous for being the invisible hero to us Singaporeans!
– Zit Seng’s Superwall: Singapore Government Under Attack
– A Singaporean In Australia: Listen to the Mee Siam
– Five Stars and a Moon: 10 Ways Anonymous can REALLY help Singaporeans
– New Nation: Unplug 2020 will be S’pore govt’s new vision
– Mothership: 8 signs The Messiah is a Sporean borrowing the Anonymous brand name

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