Modern field guide to security and privacy

Anonymous hits Mexican websites to protest kidnapping of 43 students

The hacktivist collective aimed a digital attack at Mexico that took down and defaced at least eight websites in response to the government's handling of the abduction and possible murder of 43 trainee teachers.

Carlos Jasso/Reuters
A Mexico City demonstrator wore a Guy Fawkes mask at a Dec. 1 protest over the disappearance of the 43 trainee teachers.

Anonymous attacked and took down several Mexican government websites Thursday night, an online assault the hacktivist collective said was meant to protest the government's handling of the recent mass abduction of 43 students.

While smaller scale attacks have been going on for three weeks, the so-called #opMexico culminated Thursday evening in a wave of assaults on government and academic sites. The operation took down several websites and defaced others. Some sites hit in the attack were redirected to a webpage featuring an Anonymous logo, a poem, and a video titled “Anonymous: Operation Sky Angels” that outlines their motive for the attack.

In the video, the hacker group chides the government for failing to deliver justice and accused it of being “deeply implicated in the violence it claims to oppose.” After calling the government “abusive” and shrouded in a “veil of corruption,” the trademark Anonymous robotic voice vows to “avenge” the students and make the government “pay for their crimes.”

Anonymous said they will do this by dismantling “governmental-affiliated cyber infrastructure.” 

The operation isn't the first time the loosely affiliated network has staged this kind of digital disruption in Mexico. In 2011, Anonymous Mexico attempted an online take-down of the drug cartel Zetas. Later, it attacked bus and tourism websites for failing to ensure the safety of their passengers in what they called Operation Safe Roads.

This latest action is in response to the September disappearance of 43 college students who were en route to a protest when they were stopped by police. The local law enforcement then reportedly handed the students over to a crime syndicate, which is believed to have executed them. But the remains of only one student have been identified. 

The disappearance and possible murders have led to outrage and shock in a country that has grown accustomed to violence. Earlier this week, President Obama offered US assistance to investigate the crimes. "We've got to make sure that we strengthen the criminal justice system, the investigative capacities," said Obama, saying the killings have "no place in civilized society."

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