April 5, 2012 -- The loose hacking collective Anonymous claimed today it was behind a mass attack on Chinese websites in which the front pages of some of the websites were replaced with a threatening message to the Chinese government and instructions to the Chinese people on how to beat the government's censorship.
Through their Anonymous China twitter feed, the hacking group announced the attack and claimed it hit a total of nearly 500 sites -- including a handful of sites that appeared to be government domains.
"Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall," the Anonymous message on the sites reads both in English and Chinese.
The message also claimed Anonymous was stood with the Chinese people and provided instructions on how to use free anti-censorship programs. "We must all fight for your freedom," it said.
As of this report, several of the government sites were still down but others had apparently been restored. Chinese officials told The Associated Press some of the websites Anonymous claimed it had hit never went down.
"China and all World we are just getting started," Anonymous China said on Twitter.
Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group of so-called hackivists, has drawn the ire from governments around the world for their anti-establishment tactics, which have included defacing websites including CIA.gov, attacking major financial institutions like Mastercard and Paypal and even listening in on an FBI-Scotland Yard conference call about anti-Anonymous operations.
The group was dealt a blow by law enforcement last month when it was revealed that a high-profile member of the Anonymous sub-group LulzSec, Hector Monsegur known online as "Sabu," had been working with authorities for months, resulting in the arrest of five of his cyber comrades, believed by law enforcement to be some of the most sophisticated hackers in the world.