An Anonymous-led online protest targeting the Brazilian government and sponsors of the 2014 World Cup has kicked off with multiple websites defaced by the hacktivist group.
In a bid to highlight inequality in Brazil surrounding money spent on the World Cup, Anonymous has organised a co-ordinated cyber-attack campaign in solidarity with local protests against the millions being spent that might otherwise have improved the lives of ordinary Brazilians.
Dubbed #OpHackingCup, the campaign began at midnight on Wednesday, 11 June and at the time of publication at least one government website related to the World Cup is offline while up to eight others have been defaced, with a video from Anonymous Brazil posted on the websites.
According to an activities log related to the operation posted to Pastebin, the hacktivists are first targeting government websites, though the group has also promised to attack the websites of major World Cup sponsors including Adidas, Budweiser, Coca-Cola, McDonald's, Sony and Visa.
The group has used a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the www.worldcup2014.gov.uk website which is an official government portal related to the World Cup - which kicks off in São Paulo on Thursday.
The list of target websites also includes the Brazilian Intelligence Agency, but at the time of publication that website was still online.
In an interview with Reuters last week a member of the collective called Che Commodore said a lot of planning had gone into the campaign:
"We have a plan of attack. We have already conducted late-night tests to see which of the sites are more vulnerable. This time we are targeting the sponsors of the World Cup."
The online protest follows mass demonstrations in Brazil, where crowds have taken to the streets to protest against the government's lavish spending on the World Cup, instead of improving the lives of ordinary Brazilians in a country where many do not have access to basic services.
Che Commodore said that in their tests, the group had successfully hacked into the Brazilian Foreign Ministry's server, leaking 333 confidential emails from diplomats and classified documents.
This included a briefing of talks between Brazilian officials and US vice-president Joe Biden and a list of sports ministers who are to attend the tournament.
In response, the Foreign Ministry claimed only 55 email accounts were hacked, and the only documents stolen were attached to emails and were from the ministry's internal documents archive.