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Hackers give ICT ministry a surprise

Hackers broke into the Information and Communica-tions Technology Ministry's website yesterday, plastering on the opening page a moving image of a smiling Thaksin Shinawatra, the ousted prime minister, confronting his nemesis, coup-maker General Sonthi Boonyaratglin.

Published on July 20, 2007

The animation against a black background showed Thaksin grinning and waving his hand, with the message "take back your dictatorship and return our Thailand" next to it.

It was displayed at about 11:50am for about 10 minutes until the page was removed. The site was taken offline until 2pm.

It was not clear whether the defacement had been supported or paid for by pro-Thaksin supporters.

The website - www.mict.go.th - was back up by evening but said nothing about whether anything had been deleted.

ICT Minister Sitthichai Pookaiyaudom said the skills of the hackers made him "glad", but he deplored the misuse of their talents.

"The ministry will take action against those behind the attack, to make them pay for what they did," he said, adding that he had set a deadline for their arrest.

The ministry and Cat Telecom initiated a joint investigation soon after the website was restored.

Ministry spokesman Wissanu Meeyoo said the simultaneous intrusions came from three locations, but he declined to specify whether they were in Thailand or elsewhere.

He said logs and other records would be used as evidence against the hackers, who could face a five-year prison term and/or a Bt100,000 fine.

A ministry source described the vandalism as "a slap in the face", as it came only one day after the Computer-related Crimes Act became effective.

"If they can penetrate into the ICT Ministry's own website, can the websites of other ministries be safe for long from now on?" the source said.

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