Montreal F1 ticket-buyers hacked by Anonymous

Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone said he isn't aware of any cyber threats against ticket holders for the upcoming Montreal Grand Prix race.

More than 130 people who bought F1 Montreal tickets received threatening emails warning them not to attend the race.

Their personal information was also leaked online, including names, phones numbers, email addresses and the prices they paid for their tickets.

International internet activist group Anonymous has claimed responsibility for the hacking attack.

When contacted by CBC News, Ecclestone said he wasn't aware of any internet security problems, and suggested people contact authorities.

"If someone is threatening them, they should report it to the police," he said Thursday, when reached on his cellphone. "I don't think it's a nice thing for people to do."

A group calling itself the Autonomous Committee for the Eternal Strike sent out a threatening email to some of the people whose information was leaked.

CBC contacted several people on the list who confirmed all the information posted about them was correct.

Anonymous had threatened to go after the Montreal F1 race as part of its campaign against the Quebec government over Bill 78, the emergency legislation adopted May 18 to temper nearly 3½ months of student protests over tuition hikes.

Threat invokes sportsmanship

A web posting accompanying the F1 data leak says, in French, "Anonymous is teaching you to respect sport. Sport's greatest wealth isn't money but freedom.

Today, Anonymous reminds us of the importance of sportsmanship, which you have debased by your corrupt and authoritarian society."

The message goes on to say that "the Formula One Grand Prix in Quebec will be embarrassing. Anonymous supports sporting events around the world, but they must uphold the sporting spirit, and thus uphold people's equality and liberty."

'Very upsetting'

One of the people whose information was posted, Andres Hurtado of Calgary, confirmed that he spent close to $500 on tickets for the Montreal F1 race weekend, which takes place June 8-10.

"It’s very upsetting that they want to disrupt something like this, kind of an international event, to show whatever their purpose is," Hurtado said. "I agree that they can freely protest, but when it comes down to something like this — I don’t even live in Montreal and I’m getting attacked by this!"

Frank Thoeringer of MacTier, Ont., was upset to learn his private information had been posted online, but he was even more upset at an email signed by the Autonomous Committee for the Eternal Strike urging him not to attend the race.

The “Notice to Grand Prix Visitors” was sent to Thoeringer about 2:30 a.m. Thursday and suggests those who were planning a trip to Montreal to watch the race should reconsider it. The email describes the city as an “epicentre of escalating social war” sparked by the student strike.

“Do not fool yourself into thinking that you can avoid or contain us, or that the police will protect you from our makeshift weapons. There is nowhere to hide. We know every street, every alley, every park. We know where you will sleep, where you will shop and where you will drink. We have been planning to crash your party for some time now,” the email reads.

Thoeringer said while the email is pretty scary, he and family members still plan to attend the F1 race.

“I am coming to Montreal … I enjoy Formula One,” the 24-year-old told CBC News.

Mikyo Butler, a technology analyst from Boston, said he didn't know much about Anonymous but gave the group the benefit of the doubt that it had "good intentions" behind its actions.

"It's certainly something that can raise awareness, on the one hand. On the other hand, I don’t feel great about having my info compromised," he said.

Hurtado and Butler bought their tickets in March, but in recent weeks, ticket sales have slowed due to the unrest in Quebec from the student crisis, Montreal Grand Prix organizers said Wednesday.

"For several weeks, ticket sales have been very low, nothing like what we normally see," race boss François Dumontier told CBC's French-language service.

Anonymous's previous offensives against the Quebec government temporarily downed several ministries' websites and are thought to have shut down the Quebec Liberal Party's site as well.

Earlier this week, the hacker collective posted online a two-hour-long private video of Quebec Premier Jean Charest and other dignitaries, including former prime ministers Jean Chrétien and Brian Mulroney and former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, hobnobbing with corporate and political elites at an opulent birthday party for Jacqueline Desmarais, wife of Power Corp. ex-CEO Paul Desmarais.

The video, filmed at the Desmarais family's estate in Quebec's Charlevoix region, captures a sumptuous, multimillion-dollar white-tie affair involving performances by a symphony orchestra, singing from Quebec rocker Robert Charlebois and tenor Marc Hervieux, and dozens of cabaret performers, kitchen staff and valets.

External Links

Video of Jacqueline Desmarais's birthday party
Anonymous's videos about Quebec