MIAMI BEACH, Fla. – While France was beating Switzerland on the FIFA World Cup Friday afternoon, a few Brazilian hackers who live in South Florida said they watched the game, while using their computers to engage in sabotage.
They claim they have been hacking in solidarity with the poor in Brazil, as the country has spent billions of dollars to host the 32-nation soccer tournament. They were protesting the use of public funds to host an event that they said is benefiting corporate sponsors and not the needy.
"We left Brazil, because our parents couldn't find work, because the rich take everything and don't share," said 19-year-old Marcos, who asked Local 10 News not to use his last name. "We live in Miami, but me and my friends, we are showing solidarity."
Marcos, who recently got a tattoo of the V for Vendetta cartoon character, said he is a supporter of a network of activists worldwide, who have attacked several Brazilian government and World Cup sponsors' websites. On a Live Stream channel, protesters were broadcasting their efforts on the ground.
To justify a reported $14.6 billion investment on infrastructure, Brazilian officials released a statement in 2011 that said the FIFA World Cup 2014 was going to help the country grow by at least $70 billion. While the travel industry would create thousands of jobs, more than $30 billion in taxes were expected.
Veja, a popular weekly news magazine, published a story about the economic growth at former World Cups in Germany and France to argue that the government was inflating the projections. The country has been divided politically on the subject since.
The dispute got to the college students in Miami Beach through the web in April. Marcos said they saw pictures and videos of police evicting families from Telerj in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
"We are not committing crimes or stealing. We are helping people protest. My cousin said they were arresting the homeless," the college student said. "They are hiding the poverty instead of fixing it."
Videos showing protesters vandalizing public property and armed police officers injuring protesters are surfacing on YouTube and Marcos said he is following reporters closely on social media.
Marcos said activists worldwide were using about a dozen hash tags in what they called Operation Hacking Cup. Some included "#NoVaiTerCopa, #OpHackingCup, #OpWorldCup, #TangoDown, #FIFAGoHome, #OpYouthCare, and #OpMundial2014."
On Twitter, @AnonBRNews claimed to have hacked even the Brazilian Federal Police's website. They were publishing "Anonymous Brasil" website content in Portuguese. The group claimed they were involved in 13 leaks and defaced about 100 websites, and the Hackers Bulletin was updating a "damage list."
To disrupt access to the websites, experts said hackers first looked for weaknesses. Then they flooded systems with access requests to saturate the server-running software in a method known as a Distributed Denial of Service attack.
Brazil's Foreign Ministry told Reuters that hackers intercepted 55 e-mail accounts and disrupted diplomats' accounts. A hacker who goes by Che Commodore on Twitter said the strategy did not involve attacks on regular citizens.
On the defense, there were a few paid hackers attacking forums that the protesters were using to coordinate attacks, forum users warned on social media. Marcos said this didn't affect them much, because protesters outnumber security.
"We like 'futbol' we just don't like Gatorade, Coca Cola and McDonald's making money, while Brazilians pay. FIFA should be paying," Marcos said. "Instead of stadiums, we need hospitals and schools and we don't have to be quiet about it."
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