Hacker James Raj Arokiasamy, who goes by the moniker “Messiah”, has pleaded guilty to 39 charges of computer misuse for hacking into the web servers of Fuji Xerox, a fan site of popstar Sun Ho and government-related websites in 2013.
The 36-year-old had faced a total of 162 charges, of which 39 computer misuse charges and one charge for drug consumption were proceeded with. The remaining 121 charges will be taken into consideration for his sentencing. Deputy presiding judge S. Jennifer Marie adjourned sentencing to next Friday (Jan 30).
The prosecution, which described James Raj’s offences as “the largest, most prolific cyberattacks … against IT systems in Singapore”, asked for five to six years’ imprisonment, while defence lawyer M Ravi sought a jail term of four years.
Today, a district court heard that James Raj performed a series of seven high-profile cyberattacks between March and November 2013, six of which were committed within a span of two months.
On Oct 17, 2013, he defaced a web page of the People’s Action Party Community Foundation (PCF) with a hooded figure accompanied by the word “HACKED”.
His other actions included illegally accessing and modifying content on servers of the Ang Mo Kio Town Council’s website, The Straits Times blogs, a fan site for popstar Sun Ho, who is also the wife of City Harvest Church’s founder Kong Hee, and Fuji Xerox. The Fuji Xerox hack attack compromised a server containing confidential data belonging to 650 of Standard Chartered Bank’s clients.
The attacks had stirred public anxiety, with government agencies raising vigilance after James Raj published an online video threatening that infamous hacker group “Anonymous”, which he claimed to be part of, would “go to war” with the Singapore Government.
Affected organisations spent about S$1.36 million to repair their computer systems, the court heard.
Deputy Public Prosecutor G Kannan said James Raj was a serial offender whose acts warranted a sufficiently severe sentence to deter re-offending.
“The offences involved a significant degree of premeditation and were committed in a highly sophisticated manner … It was easy and will remain easy for him (to do it again),” said
Defence lawyer M Ravi contended that the acts were “highly amateurish” and had not resulted in any physical damage or theft of intellectual property.
“(James Raj’s) acts helped to identify weaknesses in the networks which could have, in time, been destroyed by people with far more malicious intent,” Mr Ravi added.