Tunisian Government Websites Attacked Via DDoS

The repercussions of Tunisia’s strict online censorship reached an apex in the Arab country this week as multiple DDoS attacks continue to target the government. Hackers known collectively as the Anonymous group took down at least eight government websites beginning on January 2, according to the New New Internet. In their online manifesto, the group cites government censorship as their primary reason for launching their series of attacks which has brought multiple Tunisian administrative sites this week, including the Ministries site and the Tunisian Industry Portal. “Like a fistful of sand in the palm of your grip, the more you squeeze your citizens the more that they will flow right out of your hand,” the group wrote in the public statement. “The more you censor your own citizens the more they shall know about you and what you are doing.” Furthermore, an anonymous reader left a comment on the NNI post, stating:

“Join Anonymous at irc.anonops.ru #opTunisia #OperationPayback”

Tunisia’s history of government censorship is and remains prevalent. In 2008, a Tunisian journalist filed a lawsuit against the Tunisian Internet Agency for blocking Facebook in the country. The Tech Herald also reported recently that the Tunisian government injects JavaScript in the log-in pages of Gmail, Facebook, and Yahoo in order to acquire usernames and passwords. This past July, Gmail in the country underwent a DNS-based phishing attack after the government enacted a ban on several popular social websites such as Twitter and Flickr.

Aljazeera claims that Tunisia has jailed more journalists in the past ten years than any other Arab nation and is “one of the worst places on earth for Internet freedom.” In an open letter to President Ben Ali published today on the Committee to Project Journalists website, Executive Director Joel Simon cited multiple sources that provided ample evidence of harsh censorship in the country—including a 2009 CPJ study which found Tunisia to be one of the top 10 worst nations to be a blogger—and demanded that the Tunisian government end restrictions on free press, writing:

“Such strong-armed tactics cause immeasurable harm to Tunisia's international reputation. We ask you to ensure that your country moves forward from here with respect for the press.”

Anonymous isn’t stopping at anti-government protest. Although it has yet to be proven, multiple sources suspect that the same group of hackers responsible for bringing down Tunisian sites are also attacking 4chan, a popular imageboard for English-language users.

A screenshot of the ongoing DDoS attack on the Tunisian Industry Portal.

As of January 5 at 2:27pm U.S. Eastern time, www.tunisie.gov.tn and www.tunisianindustry.nat.tn were still down. For more information, visit ONI’s Tunisia 2007 and 2009 Country Profile.