A purported member of the Internet hacking group Anonymous breached a blog linked to Singapore’s leading newspaper on Friday, heightening concerns about cybersecurity among the city-state’s government agencies.
The Straits Times said it removed a page on a website that features blog posts by the newspaper’s writers after it was defaced by the hacker. The hacker claimed a Straits Times journalist published a “very misleading” blog post about a threat purportedly issued by Anonymous against Singapore’s government to protest contentious online licensing regulations.
The Straits Times said on its main website that it has lodged a police report and that government agencies have been on alert since the initial threat surfaced in a YouTube video on Thursday.
A message left on the blog page demanded that the journalist resign or apologize within 48 hours “to the citizens of Singapore for trying to mislead them.” It warned that Anonymous would take more serious action if the journalist refused.
The Straits Times said it stood by its reports and writers.
The attack comes a week after Singapore announced a plan to spend 130 million Singapore dollars ($105 million) over the next five years to bolster research and human resources to make computer networks more secure against online attacks.
Baey Yam Keng, deputy chairman of Singapore’s Parliamentary Committee for Communications and Information, said the attack illustrated how online security could be cracked.
“We do not know what the hacker’s capabilities are, so it’s important for us to take this very seriously,” he said.
This week’s threats are the latest attempt to pressure Singapore’s government to reverse a policy introduced this year that requires some news websites to obtain licenses and possibly remove offensive content.
Activists accuse the government of extending censorship to the Internet in a country where the media have long been tightly supervised. Government officials maintain the website policy is not meant to muzzle freedom of expression but to ensure a minimum standard of reporting.
Bertha Henson, who runs a Singaporean news website called Breakfast Network, voiced concerns that Friday’s hacking might hurt instead of help independent website operators.
“It makes the government seem right, that we are just troublemakers,” she said.