#OpSingleGateway: Anonymous Takes down Thai Government Websites
Activist collective Anonymous has launched the #OpSingleGateway campaign in its protest against Thailand’s ruling military government that has proposed a ‘single gateway’ for all international internet traffic coming into the country.
If enforced, the single internet gateway will serve as a means for the government to control and monitor the flow of internet traffic in the country, effectively infringing on the internet freedom and privacy of its citizens. It’s Thailand’s version of a national firewall, borrowing the idea from China.
Unsurprisingly, the plans to look into the means to implement a national firewall were predominantly kept under wraps with the Thai government being subtle about it. It took a citizen of Thailand, a programmer who goes by the Twitter handle [email protected] to discover the government’s new agenda for internet communications while browsing through the government’s website, days after its initial publishing.
The Plan for a Single Internet Gateway
State-run telecommunications company ‘CAT Telecom’ was chosen by Thai Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet as the authority to control the singular gateway for all internet communications in Thailand.
The decision followed the original, controversial mandate issued by the Prime Minister and the cabinet to the Ministry of Information and Technology (MICT) to proceed with:
[The] implementation of a single gateway to be used as a device to control inappropriate websites and flow of news information from overseas through the internet system.
In the face of mounting criticism from around the world, the Thai government’s public stance changed, only serving to contradict the original mandate and reign in confusion.
“I have not ordered [the government] to go ahead with this. I merely told them to study it, but there has been some misinterpretation,” said former Thai Army officer and now Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha. “Right now, this matter is only under study. There’s nothing.”
The Thai people were not convinced and soon enough, the seeds for discontent and protest were sown.
The world watched as news quickly spread among the Thai people who began to realize the extent to which their government was looking to exert control internet communications. The online opposition movement was finding its roots.
While it has been a month since news of Thailand’s state-controlled internet gateway went viral, a Facebook group of nearly 130,000 members quickly formed as a community, calling themselves the “Anti-CAT Tower Mob” rallied together to target certain Government websites in a coordinated, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack by the numbers.
Quite simply, thousands of users accessing the internet inundated the targeted websites by visiting them and refreshing the webpage while having the website open, leading to several government websites crashing from the sheer volume of online traffic.
The Thai Police, in response, announced that any users found targeting government websites for cyberattacks could be charged and sentenced to prison time of up to 5 years, taking a page out of Thailand’s Computer Crime Act.
An online petition on Change.org to oppose the Thai government’s plan for a single internet gateway has already garnered over 150,000 signatures.
Recently, the ‘F5CyberArmy,’ a group comprising of Thai gamers took up the mantle to announce open cyber warfare against the Thai government’s websites.
— F5CyberArmy (@f5cyberarmy) October 23, 2015
At this point, Anonymous had firmly set its sights on the Thai government and made an announcement in a Pastebin post.
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) October 22, 2015
The statement read:
Together we stand against the injustice of your Government, tomorrow you will pay the price of your oppression against your own people.
The CAT Telecom website was the chief target and F5CyberArmy took down multiple websites and breached the CAT website to hack records customer data which, contrary to claims of the country’s Communication Technology Minister, was unencrypted and stored in plain text.
— F5CyberArmy (@f5cyberarmy) October 23, 2015
The last two days had multiple Twitter accounts owned by F5CyberArmy and Anonymous members to reveal hacked data, information which the Thai government claimed was encrypted and not breached.
— F5CyberArmy (@f5cyberarmy) October 22, 2015
It was only Friday, October 23 that the Thailand Prime Minster demanded the Information and Communication Technology Ministry (ICT), to improve the security infrastructure of government websites to stop hackers from taking them down. That very evening, the F5CyberArmy posted screenshots of their breach CAT Telecom and multiple government websites were down the next day.
#OpsingleGateway is expected to stick around, as plans to implement a single internet gateway are still being spoken about by Thailand’s cabinet ministers.
Images from Shutterstock.