The Jakarta Post
As the disagreements between Indonesia and Australia over the fate of asylum seekers and revelations of Australia's eavesdropping on Indonesian officials rumbled on, an apparent cyber battle between the two nations intensified.
Australians allegedly retaliated on Friday after Indonesian hackers, linked to the global cyber-activist network Anonymous, launched their first salvo last week, which included hacking the Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS) website between Nov. 8 and 11.
Indonesian hackers, grouped under Anonymous Indonesia, claimed that Australian hackers had hacked into several Indonesian websites, including that of national flag carrier Garuda Indonesia, on Friday.
'There's news that Anon Australia [a group of Australian hackers] claimed to have hacked the Garuda Indonesia website, but [they managed] only to leak the database. Why? Because they could not find the administration page to upload the deface file,' they said on their Twitter account @anon_indonesia.
Garuda Indonesia marketing director Erik Meijer admitted that the website had been brought down by hackers.
'To avoid problems on our website and for the company's data, we blocked all access [to the site]. The temporary shutdown was done to ensure consumers' security,' he said.
Access to the Garuda website was not restored until Saturday afternoon.
Meijer said that he did not know who had launched the attack as the company did not have the capacity to track down the perpetrators.
Besides the attack on the Garuda website, a number of Indonesian websites, including those of state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura and educational institutions also fell victim to the attack.
Australian hackers, however, denied any involvement, saying that it could not have been them who wrote the threatening letter on the hacked websites as it was written in poor English, and they never attacked educational websites.
'Clearly someone is trying to frame us to start trouble,' said Anonymous Australia in their statement on pastebin.com.
Communication and Information Technology Ministry spokesman Gatot Dewobroto admitted on Saturday that there was some form of ongoing cyber war.
'But so far, [the problems] can still be neutralized,' he said.
Gatot said that the outbreak was triggered by the allegations that the Australian government was spying on the Indonesian government.
'The fact that there are lots of Indonesian hackers hacking Australian websites is a reflection of their aggravation and we can understand that,' he said.
Gatot added that the ministry had asked the hackers not to go overboard as it might lead to a full-scale cyber war.
'If there's a full-scale cyber war [between the two countries], then we will suffer more since our cyber security is still weak compared to the Australians',' he said.
It appears to be the Indonesian hackers who started the conflict by attacking scores of Australian-based websites last week.
Anonymous Indonesia claimed they had defaced more than 100 Australian sites in protest at Australia's alleged role in US-led spying activities in Indonesia.
On the defaced sites, the hackers put messages reading 'Stop spying on Indonesia' and 'Tell on your government, stop illegal spying on Indonesia'.
The attacked sites also belonged to small businesses and were chosen at random, such as one offering bouncy-castle rentals and another one offering dry-cleaning services.
The campaign has drawn various responses from the government and the public.
Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring has condemned the attacks by the Indonesian hackers, saying that hacking was a crime and that it violated the Information Technology Law.
House of Representatives Deputy Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso, however, supported the attacks saying that he would 'initiate the pooling of 1,000 hackers to paralyze Australian websites'.
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