Teen admits hacking Istana site for 'a joke'

Teen admits hacking Istana site for 'a joke'

Melvin Teo Boon Wei yesterday became the second person to be convicted of unauthorised use of a computer service by hacking into a government website.

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Two charged over Istana hacking

By Lim Yan Liang

SINGAPORE - The Istana website was attacked four times by hackers in a span of minutes on Nov 8, a district court heard for the first time Friday.

The cyber intrusions were said to have been committed by two suspects, who used a string of computer code to illegally access the website and cause it to display illegitimate images and insulting phrases.

Businessman Delson Moo and student Melvin Teo were each charged Friday with two counts of unauthorised modification of the server which hosted the Istana webpage.

This, just over two weeks after they were first questioned by police over the hacking of the site.

The court heard that Moo and Melvin each made two successful and almost simultaneous intrusions just after 12.30am through the website's search box.

At 12.33am, Melvin allegedly hacked into the site to display the phrase "Patrick Tan For The Win". It is not known who he was referring to exactly.

The 17-year-old then repeated the attack within the next few minutes and posted what appeared to be a caricature of himself and the phrase "Melvin Teo For The Win", over what the webpage would normally display.

Moo, who is 42, allegedly used a similar method to break into the the Istana site twice, starting at 12.34am that same morning.

On both occasions, he caused the webpage to display a picture of an old woman pointing her middle finger, along with a string of offensive words in Hokkien.

The charges against Moo and Melvin were not read together - both their charge sheets also did not bear each other's name, which means they would likely be dealt with separately.

The two are, respectively, the second and third suspects to be charged after the recent string of cyber attacks reported here. The first was James Raj Arokiasamy, the alleged hacker who used "The Messiah" pseudonym.

The 35-year-old, accused of hacking a town council website last month, has been remanded for further investigations. Police had said previously that Moo and Melvin are not linked to James Raj. The businessman and James Raj are both represented by lawyer M. Ravi.

On Friday, Moo arrived at court accompanied by his wife and Mr Ravi, while Melvin was with his parents.

Melvin was released on $10,000 bail, but Moo's bail was doubled to $20,000 after he was granted permission to leave Singapore for a family holiday in Thailand next month. He will be required to report to the police within 24 hours of his return.

Both men declined to speak to reporters when approached.

The pre-trial conference for both their cases will be held on Jan 24.

This article was first published on Nov 30, 2013.
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