A Sri Lankan teenager has been arrested by police for allegedly hacking into President Maithripala Sirisena's official website, posting a message demanding that the A-level examinations be rescheduled because they clash with Sinhala and Tamil New Year celebrations. Taken into custody on Monday (29 August) under the Computer Crimes Act, the 17-year-old boy could face a fine of 300,000 rupees ($2,000) and up to three years in jail.
The website was breached on two consecutive days by the hacker who claimed responsibility for the attack as "The Sri Lankan Youth". The message posted in Sinhala on the website demanded that the government reconsider its decision to hold the GCE A-level examinations in April since they clash with the traditional new year.
The government has been considering shifting the exams, which are usually held in August, to April. However, the change in exam dates has yet to be confirmed.
"We are extremely displeased about the decision to hold GCE A/L in April since the Sinhala/Hindu New Year falls in between the exam dates," the message reportedly read. "Therefore, reconsider that decision. Furthermore, take care of the security of Sri Lankan websites. Or else, we will have to face a cyber war."
The message also called on the president to "stop the prime minister's irresponsible work and look more into the problems of the university students". The message was quickly removed and replaced with a message notifying users that the website was temporarily taken down for maintenance, local newspaper The Sunday Times reports. After the website came back online a few hours later, another attack forced officials to take down the website again for a longer period of time.
A police official told AFP that the hack was traced to the teen's home in Kadugannawa, a town located about 100 km away from the capital Colombo.
The Criminal Investigation Department (CID) together with the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team is investigating the cyberattacks.
"The CID officials arrested a 17-year-old school boy in connection with the hacking and he will be produced before the courts," Dharmasri Bandara, the president's spokesman, told Reuters.