Anonymous China Hong Kong
Hacker collective Anonymous has carried out its threat to leak Chinese government details and attack state-run websites.Reuters

Hundreds of phone numbers, names, IP addresses and email addresses from Chinese government websites have been leaked online by the hacktivist collective Anonymous in support of pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.

Anonymous first threatened the attack last week through its 'Operation Hong Kong' affiliated branch, promising to leak government email address details and to shut down state websites through a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack.

Over the weekend, shortly after a government statement condemning the threat of attack, personal details taken from the Ningbo Free Trade Zone in Zhejiang province and a job-search site were released by the group.

"We cannot be with you on the streets. We cannot fight the police that are arresting you. But they cannot arrest an idea," Anonymous said in a statement.

"We have effectively hacked and shutdown government websites and their supporters. Some noticeable Chinese and Hong Kong government domains and networks have already acquired American services for their domains."

The group claims that such actions by the Chinese government prove that the attacks carried out "cannot be handled" and that the involvement of US-based providers prove that US corporations are complicit in supporting Beijing policy.

The hacker group first announced its support for the pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong at the beginning of October, stating in a video at the time: "The time has come for democracy for the citizens of Hong Kong."

Five suspected members of Anonymous have since been arrested in the region in connection with hacking attacks.

Due to the secretive nature of Anonymous, some security experts have said that it is difficult to prove that these attacks actually stem from them, rather than western governments, while others have claimed that the attacks may not have much affect on government operations.

"While Anonymous' threat for Chinese government servers is the latest in a growing line of political or terrorism threats carried out online, an outage for Chinese websites won't have a serious impact on government operations, since they aren't reliant on the government's external online presence," said Shawn Marck, co-founder of DDoS mitigation firm Black Lotus.

"However, the Chinese government would be wise to stay vigilant, since malicious actors can also leverage DDoS attacks for other nefarious means aside from disruption, such as diverting the government's attention to putting out the traffic fire while the cyberattackers steal government credentials or identification information."

Protests in the former British colony started last month after Beijing decided it was to screen candidates for the first election in the territory in 2017.