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Anonymous hacks hundreds of Web sites in China

The online hacktivist group defaces government and commercial sites with a message predicting the downfall of the Chinese government, although no central government sites appear to have been compromised.

Steven Musil Night Editor / News
Steven Musil is the night news editor at CNET News. He's been hooked on tech since learning BASIC in the late '70s. When not cleaning up after his daughter and son, Steven can be found pedaling around the San Francisco Bay Area. Before joining CNET in 2000, Steven spent 10 years at various Bay Area newspapers.
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Steven Musil
2 min read
The hacked Web site for the Central Business District in Chengdu, China. Screenshot by Steven Musil/CNET

Anonymous has recently turned its attention to the human rights struggle in China, hacking and defacing hundreds of government and commercial Web sites in that country.

The online hactivist group claims to have compromised more than 500 Web sites over the past couple of days, defacing them with messages claiming responsibility for the breach while The Who's "Baba O'Riley" plays in the background. (A complete list of the Web sites Anonymous claims to have hacked.)

The group posted the following message -- still visible at the time of this publishing -- predicting the downfall of the Chinese government, to the Central Business District in Chengdu:

Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall. So expect us because we do not forgive, never. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you. With no mercy.

The message then addresses the people of China, saying: "Each of you suffers from the tyranny of that regime which knows nothing about you. We are with you. With you here and now. But also tomorrow and the coming days so promising for your freedom. We will never give up. Don't loose [sic] hope, the revolution begins in the heart."

While some hacker sites list five government Web sites as being hacked, it appears that none of the central government Web sites were compromised.

The defacements appear to have begun earlier this week after Anonymous China issued an invitation on Twitter to "Chinese hackers, programmers, etc and hackers all over the world...to be part of Anonymous China, fighting for justice!"

Meanwhile, a hacker has posted thousands of internal documents allegedly obtained by hacking into the network of a Chinese company with defense contracts. The hacker told Reuters that he broke into the Beijing-based China National Import & Export Corp. (CEIEC) and made off with a range of documents, including information on U.S. military transport information.

It's unknown if the documents authentic or the hacker's claims are valid. CEIEC representatives did not respond to a request for comment. The company's Web site says it specializes in "defense electronics system integration."

The hacker, who goes by the name Hardcore Charlie, said he had help in cracking the e-mail passwords, particularly from a hacker named Yama Tough, who recently tried to negotiate the sale of stolen Symantec source code. He also said he was a friend of Hector Xavier Monsegur, the former leader of the hacking group LulzSec who became an informant for the FBI.