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The internet hacktivist group Anonymous says it intends to disrupt Montreal’s Grand Prix race next week to show its support to student protesters demonstrating against tuition fee hikes in Quebec, Canada, according to reports.
The group plans to “wreck anything F1 related,” which could include attacking websites and disrupting the race by manipulating servers, the VancouverSun reports.
The event is expected to take place between June 8 and 10 and is expected to attract up to 300,000 fans.
An Anonymous statement read: "Beginning on June 7 and running through race day on June 10, Anonymous will take down all the Formula 1 websites, dump the servers and databases, and wreck anything else Formula 1 related we can find on the internet.
The group is even calling on fans to boycott the event, saying: "We highly suggest that you join the boycott of the F1 in Montreal, and we certainly recommend that you do not purchase any tickets or merchandise online.
"You have been warned."
Anonymous is also encouraging F1 drivers to showcase their support by refusing to cross the start line, however, there’s been no indication as to whether any participants will take them up on their offer.
According to Dr Kevin Curran, a senior member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the threat is very much real.
Referring to the time last month when the hacktivists disrupted the official F1 website during the Grand Prix race in Bahrain, he said: “They’ve done it before so they can definitely do it again.
“There are clearly some very talented people in that group. Although I admire what they do it’s of course completely wrong for them to hack sites.
“Of course, there are various systems in place [for Formula One to deal with hacking] but you can never full protect yourself against it. No system is ever fully secure.
“But if [Anonymous] target you then you don’t have much of a chance really.”
However, Ray Wizbowski, VP Strategic Marketing at digital security firm Gemalto, believes F1 organisers can put tighter procedures in place to protect sensitive information.
He said: "This shows the importance for companies of all sizes to align to best practices for securing the network and the data stored within the network.
"One of the biggest threats in this case is not just the hack and dumping of servers, but the discovery of ticketholder person information including credit card details.
"Therefore. in addition to better data encryption, verified access rights will add another layer of protection here."