The hacker-activist collective Anonymous recently breached 161 Chinese government websites and leaked information on 5,000 accounts. The cyberattacks are part of their newly-rekindled “#OpChina” operation to support activists who have taken part in pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong.
Anonymous has a loose structure, where any individual can launch a cyberattack and claim it was done in the name of the group. Active members typically coordinate their cyberattacks using online chat tools.
“After attacking Israeli cyberspace, Anonymous is now turning their attention to Chinese cyberspace,” states an April 14 report on AnonHQ, which posts updates on the group’s operations. “Thus far, Anonymous has hacked many government websites belonging to the Chinese.”
The hackers announced the attacks through Twitter. They posted the leaked information alongside statements on Pastebin.com, which allows anyone to anonymously post text documents.
“Some hacktivists have being arrested and persecuted by the Chinese Government,” they state in the announcement. “Five activists have been arrested accused of causing congestion in Chinese sites, and this kind of protest is one of the most peaceful imaginable.”
“All citizens should have the right to speak,” they state.
Many of the websites Anonymous targeted were police or government websites in China. The hacker groups behind the attacks are AntiSec and Anonymous Globo, which both operate under the Anonymous name.
— Anonymous (@AnonymousGlobo) April 10, 2015
Another group, calling itself HagashTeam, attacked 26 additional Chinese websites—most of which do not appear to be connected to the Chinese regime. Many of the websites were for Chinese artists.
— T10z1nh0 Aka Subkelz (@h4x0s) April 10, 2015
Most of the attacks appear to be minor. Many were defacements, where the hackers deface pages on the websites and post their own statements. As of April 15, it appeared many of the defaced pages had been removed.
It is unclear whether the hackers will continue the operations. Anonymous was launching similar cyberattacks on Chinese government and police websites in October to support the democracy protests. Many of the hackers involved in the recent cyberattacks appear to be already turning their sights elsewhere.
According to AnonHQ, “The reason behind this operation is to support the protesters in China. These hackers are not stopping with China, however… they have also put out the word ‘to attack Syrian websites now.'”