Hacker group taunts Ottawa police, targets government websites
Jesse Tahirali, CTVNews.ca
Published Monday, November 24, 2014 12:47PM EST
Last Updated Monday, November 24, 2014 8:30PM EST
The group claiming to be behind a string of government website attacks continued to taunt police Monday, targeting another municipal website.
A group of hackers going by the name “Aerith” appeared to have taken down the website for the City of Laval, Que., around 6 p.m. Monday.
Aerith -- using a new Twitter account following the suspension of the original -- announced the website Laval.ca was “offline” around 6 p.m. The site appeared unreachable shortly after.
On Friday, Aerith claimed responsibility for defacing Ottawa.ca by redirecting the website to display a picture of a dancing banana along with a cryptic message about an Ottawa police officer.
The group told CTVNews.ca the attacks were in retaliation to the arrest of an Ottawa teen accused of “swatting” -- calling in fake emergencies that lure tactical police teams out to investigate.
The group alleges the 16-year-old -- who cannot be named due to his age -- is innocent, and claims to have proof the officer investigating the case “manufactured evidence.”
The teen’s lawyer said he couldn’t discuss what that evidence might be, but acknowledged that these hackers appear to support his client.
“They seem to be a real legitimate force, and they’re putting a lot of pressure on the police and the Crown to complete their investigation,” Joshua Clarke told CTVNews.ca, adding that the group had identified a different suspect from New Jersey as the perpetrator of the swatting calls.
Clarke said the teen would be in court tomorrow to set a trial date and looked forward to fighting the charges against him.
Clarke also said he had doubts about the type of evidence police used to charge his client, specifically the Internet Protocol address of the teen’s computer being used to identify him.
“Whether or not my client’s been framed is a matter before the courts,” he said. “But just because it looks like something’s coming from an IP address does not necessarily mean that it’s actually coming from that address.”
The identity of ‘Aerith’
A spokesperson for the Aerith told CTVNews.ca they chose to target Laval Monday because the city is “another place the youth was charged with crime.” The teen faces 60 criminal charges for reporting fake emergencies in at least 30 cities across North America.
Despite the group’s attacks focusing on Canadian websites, there’s no indication that any of the group’s members are operating out of Canada.
On Saturday, the person emailing CTVNews.ca under the name “Aerith” said he was a male living in Turkey and working with two other people.
On Monday, in another email to CTVNews.ca, Aerith claimed to have expanded to 15 people, saying their new Twitter account was being run out of Brazil. In a public release, Aerith also referred to themselves as “we,” indicating the title referred to the name of a group, not an individual.
The spokesperson for the group also said Aerith was no longer a part of the group “Anonymous,” though they begin their campaign under that guise.
“Anonymous” is a loosely defined hacker collective that uses the “V for Vendetta” Guy Fawkes masks as a motif in publicizing their activities, but operate under no specific mandate or central authority.
Aerith also took down the Ottawa Police website Saturday and the Toronto Police Services website Sunday. In a public release Monday the group said they had more websites on their list of targets.
“We will be taking out more in the coming days, and we will not stop,” they wrote.