Myanmar govt sites hacked, protesters jam roads

YANGON (AFP) – Hackers targetted Myanmar government websites yesterday to protest against the military coup, as the junta pressed on with its attempts to stymie nationwide opposition with Internet blockades and troop deployments.

The cyberattacks came a day after tens of thousands of people rallied across the country to protest against the generals toppling Aung San Suu Kyi’s civilian government earlier this month.

A group called Myanmar Hackers disrupted websites including the Central Bank, the Myanmar military’s propaganda page, state-run broadcaster MRTV, the Port Authority, and the Food and Drug Administration.

“We are fighting for justice in Myanmar,” the group said on its Facebook page.

“It is like mass protesting of people in front of government websites.”

Cybersecurity expert Matt Warren from Australia’s RMIT University said it was likely the aim was to generate publicity.

Police stand by as protesters demand the release of detained Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi during a demonstration against the military coup in Yangon. PHOTO: AFP

“The sorts of attacks they would be undertaking are denial of service attacks or defacing websites which is called hacktivism,” he told AFP.

“The impact will be potentially limited but what they are doing is raising awareness.”

Internet access was severely curtailed for the fourth night running at about 1am yesterday, according to NetBlocks, a Britain-based group that monitors Internet outages around the world.

It said connectivity dropped to just 21 per cent of ordinary levels, and was restored eight hours later ahead of the start of the working day.

“The practice is detrimental to public safety and incites confusion, fear and distress in difficult times,” NetBlocks tweeted.

For a second day, motorists in Yangon blockaded roads with vehicles, leaving their bonnets up and pretending they were broken down to stop security forces from moving around Myanmar’s biggest city.

Buses and cars could be seen on live feeds parked around a bridge at North Dagon yesterday morning, as protesters chanted, “Do not attend the office, leave it. Join the civil disobedience movement.”

“We need the United States (US) Army to save our situation,” read a sign held by a demonstrator.

Dozens of police patrolled the vicinity of Myaynigone junction as motorists also blocked roads.

“We gathered about five taxies and one pretended his car had broken down and blocked the street. Others also surrounded him. But we did not stay long. We blocked for about 30 minutes,” said a 30-year-old taxi driver. “We are doing this to cause difficulties for police. If they come and it is a little bit tense, we then leave.”

Street food vendor Than Than said the traffic snarls were a minor inconvenience, but she supported the campaign.

“I walked about 40 minutes because of cars blocking my way back home yesterday afternoon before I got a bus,” the 50-year-old told AFP.