This week the Brazilian arm of the hacker group LulzSec announced they had taken down two Brazilian government websites, including the website of the president. The attack comes after the group Anonymous threatened to take down websites in Chile and Peru.
The Brazilian government says the sites were only down for a few hours and quickly restored. However, the sites appeared to continue having problems as of yesterday morning.
In recent days, LulzSec has threatened to break into government sites and steal sensitive or classified information. If that was the case, it would be a serious attack on the Brazilian government. However, right now this appears to be a simple hacking attack that shut the website down, not a security breach into the government servers.
O Globo reports that a few days ago a separate attack by a local hacker broke into Brazilian Army servers, stole personal information of soldiers, and published that information online. That information included the email logins and passwords for at least 300 soldiers. That is a much more serious breach of security and a real attack that the Brazilian government must take seriously.
Meanwhile, the group 'Anonymous' threatened to launch cyberattacks against the governments of Chile and Peru in what they call "Operacion Andes Libre." Their complaint is that the two governments are violating the rights of Internet users by monitoring blogs, Facebook, and Twitter and tracking users' opinions and locations (El Comercio, La Tercera). The attack was announced on a YouTube video read by someone with an accent from Spain.
Anonymous previously threatened Venezuela and Nicaragua for their support of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, but never seemed to get around to attacking them. The group has conducted several successful DDOS attacks against corporations and government websites around the world over the past few years.
Latin America is unprepared for cyberwarfare. There are no standing policies in place as to how the region should respond to an attack, certainly nothing from a non-state group simply looking to cause havoc. That said, the threatened DDOS attacks by Anonymous against government websites are more of an annoyance and a form of protest than an attack against critical infrastructure. Over the past few years both governments have seen hackers attack and deface websites from time to time. The governments of Chile and Peru should be able to handle the event, recover from whatever damage they face, and will hopefully learn a bit about their own cyber-defense and coordination issues in the process.
--- James Bosworth writes the blog, Bloggings by Boz.