Anonymous Austria ‘backed by army personnel’

The Austrian part of an international network of hackers has claimed it is supported by military officials and civil servants.

An unnamed representative of Anonymous Austria said today (Fri): “Pupils, university students and young employees can be found among our members, but also unemployed people, civil servants and members of the army.”

Speaking to the Kurier newspaper, he explained everyone of them was providing various kinds of knowledge in support of their actions.

Asked for the group’s motives, the Anonymous Austria member said: “We cannot continue watching on as Austrian politics are decreasing. Politicians are like pigeons – they shit on your head after you fed them. We cannot go on like this.”

The representative of the group of online activists – who recently hacked the websites of the Austrian Social Democrats (SPÖ) and the Freedom Party (FPÖ) – added: “We won’t stop in the foreseeable future. (…) Most of us are ready to risk getting punished for what they are doing. (…) Some of us may calm down if lawmakers show the will to allow more direct democracy.”

He told the Kurier: “We want to show the people that we are on their side. We are giving them back their voice. There is more endorsement than rejection (among citizens).”

The Anonymous Austria member warned: “Everyone of us can start their own actions. Our number of participants is changing all the time.”

Anonymous Austria attacked the internet representations of the federal SPÖ, its St. Pölten group and the internet presence of the right-wing FPÖ only a few weeks ago. It emerged today that the group invaded the homepage of GIS, the Austrian TV fee authority. Personal data of around 20,000 Austrian TV and radio consumers emerged online. The group claimed all of them were working for the police or the interior ministry.

Anonymous Austria also announced it managed to create a backup of the 3.5 million registered customers of Austrian broadcasting company ORF – a claim vehemently dismissed by GIS. A spokesman for the Salzburg-based ORF subsidiary said he could rule out that the hackers achieved this “because these data are located on several servers.” He announced plans to launch a lawsuit against the network of hackers.

People hearing ORF’s radio service and watching its TV programmes have to pay around 20 Euros a month. The amount depends on their place of residence as a substantial share of it goes directly to the provincial parliaments. The ORF fee system has not been criticised solely over this aspect. Some media and many citizens have been unhappy with the quality of ORF’s programme considering the hundreds of millions of Euros the station receives each year while its private rivals ATV, Puls 4 and ServusTV are subjected to finance their activities with revenues from commercials.

The Austrian police’s department for the protection of the constitution and the fight against terrorism (BVT) and the Federal Crime Office (BK) have been investigating the hackers’ recent attacks against the SPÖ and the FPÖ to no avail. Officials said they could not yet say for sure whether the people behind the strikes were residents of Austria.

SPÖ General Secretary Laura Rudas said in a radio interview she considered the incidents a “disgrace,” adding that parts of her party’s website had to be reprogrammed after the strike. Anonymous Austria explained it decided to assault the SPÖ’s homepage to punish the government party for waving goodbye to its ideals. Rudas made clear that the SPÖ considered legal action against the activists.

Internet sites run by the People’s Party (ÖVP) have so far not been in the group’s firing line. The conservative forms a federal coalition with the SPÖ. The Greens and the Alliance for the Future of Austria (BZÖ) have been spared troubles the SPÖ and the FPÖ experienced too. However, Anonymous Austria recently left a note on its account on social networking platform Twitter saying: “So who’s next? ÖVP? Grüne? BZÖ?”

The group explained it struck out against the FPÖ for its “blunt racism and xenophobia.” Herbert Kickl, the FPÖ’s general secretary explained some party members were threatened with violence and murder after private data such as their telephone numbers appeared online. He added that he saw no connection between the recent attack on the party’s website and the leak. Kickl claimed the information was put online following the theft of a stolen mobile phone. The right-winger suggested the country’s main political parties should meet for talks on the issue to better protect themselves against similar strikes in the future.

Police officials said people being caught infiltrating computer networks face five years in jail. Trying to get hold of any kind of data with illegal means is a criminal act punishable to the same extent, they warned. Cyber crime experts stressed perpetrators could also be ordered to come up for the financial damage their victims faced.