An infamous hacktivist who defaced almost 5000 websites in more than 40 countries over the past few years have been unmasked by security researchers.
The hacktivist known as “VandaTheGod” on Twitter, used social media to publicize his exploits, sometimes under aliases such as “Vanda de Assis” and “SH1N1NG4M3.”
Check Point security firm was alerted by this activity and using a trail of clues ultimately led them to his real identity. He was living in the south-eastern Brazilian municipality of Uberlandia.
The hacktivist who was active since 2013 did not reach his stated personal goal of compromising over 5000 websites. But, thousands of governments, academic and corporate sites were defaced with anti-government and social justice messages by him.
In the last year, around 57% were located in the US — where victims included the official website of the state of Rhode Island and the city of Philadelphia —while Australia and the Netherlands became the top three targeted countries.
VandaTheGod was also active in his home country where he defaced a Brazilian government website with the hashtag #PrayforAmazonia, in response to the increase in rainforest clearing approved by right-wing President Bolsonaro.
His main motives were unselfish while he occasionally drifted into stealing credit card details and log-ins. He tried to breach details from public figures, universities and even hospitals — and on one occasion he even tried to sell the medical records of one million New Zealand patients for $200 per record.
Check Point manager of threat intelligence, Lotem Finkelsteen stated that this case showcases how much disruption a single, determined individual can cause internationally. Even though ‘VandaTheGod’s’ motive appears to be protesting against injustices, the line between hacktivism and cybercrime is thin.
There are several hackers who take similar path from digital vandalism to credentials and money theft as they develop their techniques. He also added that by revealing the person’s true identity and disclosing it to law enforcement, there should be an end to their extensive disruptive and criminal activities.