Hacking Into Falun Gong’s Email Accounts

By | June 20, 2005

Another interesting twist in the allegations of spying and harrassment of Falun Gong members in Australia:

Jeremy Howard of FastMail.FM, a very good and very secure email service run from Australia, tells me the story of how, four years ago, someone, or some people, or some organisation, or some country, tried to hack the accounts of six of his customers who happened to be Falun Gong members.

Jeremy was notified automatically when a host of computers tried guess the passwords of six customers he later found out were Falun Gong practitionera. The attacks were brute force dictionary attacks, meaning that the passwords were being guessed at, one word tried after another. After 100 attempts alarms went off at FastMail, but because the attacks were coming from compromised computers in different places it wasn’t a simple case of thwarting the attack by blocking the computer’s address. “Usually the server locks out an IP address, but these were distributed… so we contacted the users, and we told them that it was happening,” Jeremy says. Their replies surprised him.

“We know where this is coming from,” Jeremy says they told him, “We’re Falun Gong practioners, and our communications get intercepted all the time.” Jeremy solved the problem by setting up secure, anonymous, accounts and aliases (see my post here about aliases; this is another interesting use of them) and, despite another attack a week later, the accounts were never compromised.

So who was behind it? Jeremy has no evidence it was the Chinese government, but he did say he thought whoever did it were pros: “Obviously anybody could do something like this, but we’ve never seen anyone else do so,” he says. “The people involved in this case were more competent and more determined than anybody else we’ve seen.”

Certainly FastMail would seem an obvious target of anyone wanting to monitor overseas activities of the Falun Gong. A simple Google search of FastMail and Falun Gong throws up more than a dozen FastMail email addresses, a point that Jeremy acknowledges with a twinge of pride: After all, he says, it’s a sign they think his service is safe. “It seems we’re now the official provider of the Falun Gong,” he says.

7 thoughts on “Hacking Into Falun Gong’s Email Accounts

  1. Richard

    Truly shocking about the hacking. I choose Fastmail.FM’s webmail, because it’s the most reliable service I’ve used. Hotmail and Yahoo are just too congested and you end up having to choose email addresses that have 121 at the end of what you want to call your account.

  2. Sandra Hattingh

    In 2003 (in Australia) I reported some incidents of email interference to the Communications Minister. I don’t believe it was taken seriously, or more to the point, it was too incredible to be given any weight then. Now that it is common knowledge, I am constantly hearing back what I was trying to tell them then.
    There have been ongoing incidences too numerous to mention, but I appreciate that you are behind Falun Gong on this, and feel confident in your conviction to opposing the menace,
    Kindest regards,

  3. (author's name removed by request of author)

    I don’t recall if Jeremy was around at the time, but I also had some trouble two years ago with my fastmail account. Hundreds of messages were coming and going and none of them were from me, though I had my suspicions about their origin being overseas. The fastmail people were very helpful in setting up better security, aliases etc and I haven’t had any major problems since. It is still an excellent service and its staff are very helpful, so I am happy to share this with other Falun Gong practitioners.

  4. f. a. nova

    please informe me how to hack the e-mail account. and ckeck out email of some other person

  5. Juan

    What the Chinese government is doing is awfull. More people should know about this. They are not only violating the privacy of the citizens, but is also commiting crimes against humanity, like sending people to labor camps, torturing and killing the Falun Gong practitioners, who are peaceful good people


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