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Man admits hacking PMO website

GUILTY: Mohammad Azhar used a Google search bar on the website to create a modified version mentioning hacktivist group Anonymous. PHOTO: THE STRAITS TIMES


    Nov 12, 2014

    Man admits hacking PMO website

    A JOBLESS man has admitted to entering unauthorised computer code into the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) website server on Nov 7 last year, among other offences.

    A district court heard yesterday that Mohammad Azhar Tahir, 27, used a Google search bar embedded on the page to create a modified version that referenced international hacktivist group Anonymous.

    He did this by entering HTML code instead of proper search terms.

    Internet users who clicked a link containing the script, which he posted on various social media websites, would see a Guy Fawkes mask and two messages instead of what the search-results page would normally display.

    The messages were: "It's great to be Singaporean today" and "ANONYMOUS SG WAS HERE B*****".

    Mohammad Azhar pleaded guilty yesterday to seven of 59 charges under the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act.

    These included accessing a neighbour's wireless Internet service and modifying social media and e-mail accounts that belonged to Ah Boys To Men actor Muhammad Ridhwan Azman, 21.

    Deputy Public Prosecutor April Phang told the court that there had been widespread concern because it seemed as if the PMO website had been defaced by hackers from Anonymous, although data on its server had not actually been altered.

    Mohammad Azhar had effectively masked his identity by using his neighbour's Internet connection, said DPP Phang.

    In two instances, he had used the actor's accounts to publicise the link containing the offending script.

    The court heard that Mohammad Azhar had committed the PMO website intrusions with a technique known as cross-site scripting.

    He decided to test his skills on the page's search function after hearing of Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong's warning that hackers who attack the country's computer networks would be brought to justice.

    Mr Lee had issued the warning about a week after a person claiming to be from Anonymous issued a threat via a YouTube video to attack Singapore's infrastructure in protest against new licensing rules for news websites.

    Similar charges had also been brought against Mohammad Azhar's 22-year-old brother, full-time national serviceman Mohammad Asyiq Tahir.

    Mohammad Asyiq pleaded guilty yesterday to five of the 11 counts, which largely involved tampering with the actor's e-mail and social media accounts. None of the offences concerned the PMO website server.

    Both brothers are expected to be sentenced on Dec 8.

    Mohammad Azhar faces up to three years in jail and up to $10,000 in fines for each of two counts of securing unauthorised access to the website server.