SINGAPORE - Singapore authorities have arrested a 35-year-old man suspected of involvement in a series of high-profile hacker attacks on government websites, and ordered him to be sent for psychiatric assessment.
James Raj was charged on Tuesday with modifying the contents of a website belonging to the town council that manages Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's constituency on Oct. 28.
If found guilty, he could be jailed for up to three years and fined $10,000.
Raj allegedly hacked the web server from an apartment in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, according to a charge sheet seen by Reuters.
A state prosecutor told the court that investigations were still ongoing and asked that Raj be remanded at the Institute of Mental Health (IMH) for psychiatric evaluation. The prosecutor said Raj had told police that he suffers from attention deficit disorder and suicidal tendencies.
Hackers claiming links to international hacking collective Anonymous attacked and defaced several websites in Singapore last week, including the official sites of Prime Minister Lee and President Tony Tan. Hackers also defaced dozens of websites belonging to Australian businesses and Philippine government agencies, leaving the Anonymous calling card - a mask of Guy Fawkes.
Raj's lawyer M Ravi, a human rights activist, told reporters he has not been allowed access to his client so far, and he could not confirm if Raj was the hacker known as the Messiah or was linked to Anonymous.
"I should have thought that if they had concerns about his mental state, they should have referred him to IMH before taking any statements," he said.
The accused, James Raj son of Arokiasamy, 35, is alleged to have added an image of Guy Fawkes and a banner with text referencing "The Messiah" to the Ang Mo Kio Town Council website on Oct 28, while in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur.
Get the full story from The Business Times.
Man charged with hacking AMK Town Council site
James Raj Arokiasamy, 35, was charged under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act for carrying out "unauthorised modifications" to websites including adding an image of the Guy Fawkes mask to the the Ang Mo Kio Town Council website on Oct 28.
Get the full story from The Straits Times.
Man charged for hacking incidents; More being investigated for PMO, Istana hacking
It is understood that the three suspects in the incident relating to the hacking of PMO's site are family members, while the two suspects in the Istana case are Facebook friends. The men are aged between 17 and 45.
Get the full story from The Straits Times.
The statement from the police in full:
Police have arrested a 35-year-old Singaporean man for the recent series of hacking incidents into the websites of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council, the Straits Times Blog, People's Action Party Community Foundation (PCF) and City Harvest Church cofounder Sun Ho.
In a separate operation, five other men have been arrested for vandalising public property. Preliminary investigations indicate that the hacker and vandals do not know each other and their criminal acts were committed in isolation.
Arrest of hacker
Since Sep 2013, the police have received several reports where the websites of the the Ang Mo Kio Town Council, The Straits Times blog, City Harvest Church co-founder Sun Ho and the People's Action Party Community Foundation (PCF) were reportedly hacked. Police also received a report of attempted hackings of websites linked to the City Harvest Church.
Through extensive investigations and enquiries conducted, the police managed to establish the identity of a possible suspect.
The suspect was also wanted by the Central Narcotics Bureau (CNB) for outstanding drug-related offences in Singapore and was believed to be hiding in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The police and CNB worked very closely with the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP) to track down the suspect in Malaysia and arrested him on Nov 4.
He was subsequently brought back to Singapore and charged in Court on Nov 5 with three counts of the offence of Consumption of Controlled Drugs under Section 8(b) of the Misuse of Drugs Act. The Court granted a one-week remand for further investigation.
The suspect is a 35-year-old male Singaporean and is believed to have operated alone.
He will be charged in court on Nov 12 2013 for an offence under Section 5 (1) of the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, Chapter 50A, which carries a punishment of a fine not exceeding $10,000 or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 3 years or both.
Arrest of Vandals
On Nov 5, Police received two reports of vandalism with writings purportedly linked to the 'Anonymous' group. In the first case, spray-painted wordings were discovered on the wall and pavement of a building along Prinsep Link.
In the second case, writings in marker ink were discovered on the notice board of a HDB block in Tampines and a nearby bus stop. On 6 November 2013, a third incident was reported to the Police where spray-painted wordings were found on the walls of a HDB void deck in Woodlands.
Through investigative probes and extensive interviews, the police established the identities of the five suspects involved in the first case on Nov 5 at Prinsep Link.
On Nov 7, four of the suspects, Singaporean men aged between 21 and 26, were arrested. The remaining suspect, a 24-year-old Singaporean man, was arrested on Nov 8.
All five suspects will be charged in Court on Nov 12 for offences of Vandalism with Common Intention under Section 3 of the Vandalism Act read with Section 34 of the Penal Code, which carries a punishment of imprisonment of up to three years or fine up to $2,000, and caning of not less than three strokes and not more than eight strokes.
In two other separate incidents, the police received reports on Nov 8 on the alleged "hacking" of websites belonging to the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and Istana.
Police investigations revealed that the suspect(s) had exploited a vulnerability in the said websites to display pages from other sources.
Police has since established the identities of five suspects, Singaporean men aged between 17 and 45. The five suspects are currently assisting the police in their investigation.
Current indications are that these two cases are unrelated to each other and to the first two cases of hacking and vandalism.
Following the police's statement on the arrest of a 35-year-old Singaporean man for the recent series of hacking incidents, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued a statement on cyber-security:
Acts that disrupt, deface or interfere with information communications and technology (ICT) systems are illegal and constitute an offence. Such acts can compromise the operation of critical services, cause alarm, damage and harm, and have serious security, economic and social consequences for Singapore and Singaporeans.
Much effort and resources have been required to track down the persons responsible for the ICT attacks and vandalism. They are likely to have carried out these separate illegal and anti-social acts thinking that they could get away with them. Those found to have carried out such criminal acts, made threats or incited others to attack our ICT systems will be taken to task in accordance with the law.
We hope that the community will take a strong stand against such anti-social and criminal acts. Whether through hacking, vandalism or other illegal actions, such persons only serve to disrupt the lives of other law-abiding citizens and cause unnecessary alarm. We should not allow the actions of a few to affect our sense of safety and security in Singapore.
A hacker by the moniker 'The Messiah' defaced Ang Mo Kio Town Council's website on Oct 28, with a message alluding to their MP's comments in an article on local freesheet MyPaper dated Oct 25.
In his message on the website, the Messiah said: "I have been to various sites and seen how they take the initiative to secure their systems. You have a brain & you have money. You had a choice. Don't blame external factors (Anonymous) for this hack."
In the MyPaper story on past cases of commuter rage on public transport, the MP for Ang Mo Kio GRC Mr Ang Hin Kee said: "I've been to crowded places and seen how people accommodate one another. You have a choice. Don't blame external factors for your behaviour."
Mr Ang later responded to the hacking on his Facebook page, saying: "I was quoted in MyPaper dated 25 Oct 13. It was about anti-social behavior at queue lines, whether at bus stops, cinemas or hawker stalls.
We can make a choice to be civil. Unfortunately, a hacker chose to intrude into a website & post untruths plus lifted my comments out of context. Useful to refer to the source article for an accurate view"