Angry net users answered calls on social media to go on websites for government agencies and political parties to continuously click “refresh”, with organisers directing participants on Facebook to move from one site to another.
It remained unclear Thursday morning (Oct 1) whether the attacks themselves brought down the sites or whether the threat of a “denial of service” (DDOS) attack intimidated agencies into taking their web portals offline. The government has not confirmed a DDOS attack and organisers did not say one was successful.
All the websites appeared to be restored at the opening of business Thursday.
Minister ML Panadda Diskul of the Prime Minister’s Office blamed the outages on those spreading false information about the proposal for a single gateway, which would send all Internet traffic through one central government line, which critics claim would allow for easier monitoring of content.
The first websites went offline at about 10pm Wednesday, after the “Anti-CAT Tower Mob” group called on its 127,000-plus Facebook fans to attack, even amid threats from the government that such actions would be treated as violations of the Computer Crime Act.
The ICT deputy permanent secretary, Somsak Khaosuwan, claimed Wednesday night his ministry’s site did not crash because of an attack, but because it was overloaded by visitors monitoring the planned attack.
Sites affected as of early Thursday were the main government information website ThaiGov.go.th, the ICT ministry’s site at mict.go.th and the defence ministry’s website, mod.go.th.
Also knocked out briefly were the websites of the state-owned TOT Plc, the firm likely to host any single gateway if it is installed, CAT Telecom and the Internal Security Operations Command. Reports also said an attack also targeted the Democrat Party website.
The last site to recover early Thursday morning was the MICT website, possibly because authorities had actually taken it offline.
Warnings on Wednesday afternoon from credible sources in the Thai hacking community said they planned to attack government websites to protest the recent disclosure of government plans to reduce internet access to a single gateway, controlled by CAT Telecom Co.
The simultaneous denial-of-service attack works like normal attacks by over-exceeding a website’s capacity to handle internet traffic.
But whereas normal attacks are carried out by a program or bot, Wednesday night’s protest was carried out by thousands of online users, with CAT Tower generals giving directions on which target to hit next.
After the secret plan was accidentally disclosed by a government press release, authorities sent out Deputy Prime Minister Prajin Junthong to try to spin the plan. He said that the single gateway initiative was only a proposition and that no “firm decisions have been made.”
Critics of the plan idea contend it will take away freedom of information, with some even comparing it to the tightened grip of a communist country.
A change.org petition opposing the single gateway initiative passed 100,000 signatures as of Wednesday.
ML Panadda said the single-gateway idea was proposed for security reasons and Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha ordered a study on it first.
He admitted a single door to the outside internet could pose a risk of a nationwide internet collapse and make attacks easier. Still, he said, it cannot hurt to study the proposition.
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