Hackers have attacked Malaysian government websites, authorities said Thursday, following a threat by the "Anonymous" activist group which accused Malaysia of censoring the Internet.
Fifty-one government websites were targeted, causing disruptions to at least 41 of them, the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) said in a statement.
It said the attacks on websites with the .gov.my domain started shortly before midnight Wednesday and lasted several hours, but appeared to have caused little damage.
"The Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission confirms that there were indeed attempts to hack several websites," it said.
"However, we do not expect the overall recovery to these websites to take long as most websites have already recovered from the attack," it added.
The commission said it would work with enforcement agencies, security experts and service providers to keep the situation in check.
Malaysian authorities had Wednesday braced themselves for cyber attacks after Internet activists Anonymous warned on a website that they would target the government portal www.Malaysia.gov.my.
The website was still down on Thursday. MCMC did not specify which websites were hacked, only saying its own site was targeted but that the hacking attempt was unsuccessful.
Anonymous sabotaged Turkish sites last week to protest against Internet censorship.
Its Malaysia attack plan threat followed an order by the MCMC to Internet service providers last week to block 10 file and video-sharing websites that it said violate copyright laws.
The hackers explained the rationale for the attack in a YouTube clip, claiming that Malaysia's censorship was an erosion of human rights.
Malaysia's media operate under strict censorship laws but websites have remained relatively free -- despite occasional raids, bans and government criticism -- due to an official pledge not to censor the Internet.
The Internet freedom commitment was made in the mid-90s to attract foreign investment to the high-tech sector.
Anonymous, an international hackers group, rose to fame with a series of attacks on websites linked to the Church of Scientology.
The group gained further prominence after launching retaliatory attacks on companies perceived to be enemies of the whistle-blowing website Wikileaks.