'Subpage' of the Prime Minister's Office website hacked; Investigations ongoing

SINGAPORE - A subpage in the Prime Minister's Office (POM) and Istana websites were hacked on Thursday night (Nov 7)at 11.17pm and Friday (Nov 8) at 12.20am respectively.

The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA) said in a statement on Friday that "a subpage for search on the PMO website was reported to be compromised" on Thursday at 11.17pm.

It added that the vulnerability in the affected subpages "were exploited to display pages from other sources", in what is known as cross-site scripting.

"Both the PMO and Istana main websites are still working, and we will restore the compromised pages as soon as possible. The matter is under investigation," the IDA spokesperson said.

Apologising for any inconveniences caused, IDA siad that they will continue to strengthen all Government websites, which includes the checking and fixing of vulnerabilities and software patching.

Visitors to Government websites may experience intermittent problems with access during this period of maintenance.

The latest incident comes after a threat last week by international hactivist group Anonymous, calling for Singaporeans to join in its protest against the government.

In the YouTube clip, a person claiming that he was from Anonymous said that the group would strike at Singapore's infrastructure, if its demands to have an online-news licensing framework repealed were not met, reported My Paper on Wednesday.

Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong also told reporters on Wednesday that Singapore will "spare no effort" to hunt down those who threaten to harm "our IT (information technology) network, the Internet, our communications".

Earlier in Nov 2, several government websites were down due to technical difficulties encountered during a planned maintenance that took place from 1pm to 3pm.

IDA later said in statement on Nov 5 that the Singapore Government takes cyber security and threats to its ICT infrastructure very seriously, and maintenance of IT systems is part of the Government's on-going efforts to enhance security.

"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," IDA said.

The technical glitch on Nov 2 was due to a combination of a routing issue and a hardware failure, and was rectified by 5.20pm.

IDA added that some Government websites may continue to experience intermittent access over the next few days while maintenance is in progress.

SINGAPORE - Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's official website was hacked Thursday by apparent members of activist group Anonymous after he vowed to hunt down anyone who attacks the city-state's technological network.

"It's great to be Singaporean today," read a mocking headline in a section of www.pmo.gov.sg next to the group's trademark Guy Fawkes mask, a symbol of anti-establishment defiance worldwide.

Next to it was another image saying: "PM Lee warns hackers: We will track you down - even if you think you're 'anonymous'".

The defaced section was quickly taken offline after the hacking incident surfaced in a posting on Facebook. The rest of the site was working normally.

In a statement issued early Friday, the government's Infocomm Development Authority said it was investigating the incident.

"The PMO (Prime Minister's Office) main website is still working, and we are working to restore the page that has been compromised," it said.

Social media and independent websites have become the main arenas of political debate in Singapore, whose mainstream newspapers and broadcasters are widely perceived to be pro-government.

The hacking took place a day after Lee told local journalists that his government would "spare no effort" in going after Anonymous members who last week threatened to wage a cyber war against Singapore.

"Our IT network, the Internet, our communications have become an essential part of our business and our lives now," the Today newspaper quoted him as saying.

"And, therefore, when somebody threatens to do harm to it... we take that very seriously and we will spare no effort to try and track down the culprits and if we can find him, we will bring him to justice and he will be dealt with severely."

It was Lee's first comment since a person claiming to be from Anonymous threatened to mount cyber attacks against the government in protest at new licensing rules for news websites.

In the video posted on YouTube on October 31, a person speaking with a computer-digitised voice and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask said the group would "go to war" with the Singapore government.

A day later a person claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous hacked a reporter's blog on the website of the Straits Times newspaper.

The hacker also warned of further attacks on the tightly governed island's technological infrastructure if demands for greater Internet freedom were not met.

Singapore strictly regulates the traditional media. Its new Internet rules have sparked anger in the blogging and social media community, which says the rules are designed to muzzle free expression.

Authorities insist the new licensing rules do not impinge on Internet freedom. - AFP