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    December 9, 2010

    Operation: Avenge Assange is about more than “Childish Cybercrimes”

    You might have read the guest post by Jason Adriaan over the Anon’s “childish” cybercrimes against major websites which they believe are against the freedom of information. I just thought I would give my opinion as well. Here is the statement from Anonomous:

    “œWhile we don‘t have much of an affiliation with WikiLeaks, we fight for the same: we want transparency (in our case in copyright) and we counter censorship. The attempts to silence WikiLeaks are long strides closer to a world where we can not say what we think and not  express how we feel. We can not let this happen, that is why we will find out who is attacking WikiLeaks and with that find out who tries to  control our world. What we are going to do when we found them? Except for the usual DDoSing, word will be spread that whoever tries to silence or discourage WikiLeaks, favors world domination rather than freedom and democracy.“

    I reckon they are pretty upfront about their reasons. Clearly these Denial of Service attacks are about making a statement – and not about giving “wedgies” to sites. We should not forget that Wikileaks itself was attacked using DDoS methods before finally being taken down by Amazon and EveryDNS. The initial wikileaks hacker (called “th3j35t3r”) explained his attacks on Wikileaks by stating that they are “attempting to endanger the lives of our troops, “˜other assets‘ & foreign relations”.

    The main targets of the attacks: Mastercard, Visa and Paypal are essentially the backbone of  electronic payments, and anything that can take them down is clearly not a force to be taken lightly. Same goes for PostFinance, who shut down Julian Assange’s defense fund, which have also been taken down. Yes, they are sites that will probably be up and running soon enough as if nothing happened, but remember these are sites that drum up a lot of business from their public facing sites which account to millions, but most off all, their reputation is their biggest asset.

    So while Mastercard and VISA transactions might be ongoing, public perception is key. The typical person who sees this might ask “Can I trust my money with some company that can be attacked by some hackers?” (excuse the ignorance in that statement, but this is the way uninformed people might interpret this). Never mind the legality of DDoS, this is a modern form of strike or boycotting. Even though the common man cannot take down Mastercard / VISA transactions, at least we can make them (and their customers) take note, and potentially hamper their business.

    Also, I just thought I would also just tell you how DDoS are orchestrated, and why the apparently low number of “600 people” is irrelevant. These attackers sign up to Low Orbit Ion Canon (LOIC) which are installed on their machines. All of these machines form a hivemind which coordinates TCP, UDP packets and HTTP requests. The Hive Mind is controlled by an IRC channel operator, forming a voluntary botnet. So while 600 people might not sound a lot, LOIC was designed to stress test (and potentially kill) networks and services from a single client using hundreds of pings every minute. Now if LOIC is used in group, and is orchestrated properly, it is indeed a very powerful form of attack. Oh and by the way, that number has now increased to more than a 1000, growing continually…

    At present, Anon is attacking the following sites:

    Mastercard, VISA, Postfinance, Paypal blog and Paypal main site, http://aklagare.se (Swedish prosecutors), EveryDNS, Senator Lieberman’s site (the first government site targeted by Operation Avenge Assange), Sarah Palin’s site (she said Assange should be hunted like a terrorist), PandaLabs (ran a DDoS report page),

    These attacks are orchestrated through the anonops.net website, which is also being targeted by anti-wikileaks supporters.

    While I am not choosing sides in this whole Wikileaks story, I really think these DDoS attacks are not simply fooling around. If the internet is becoming the modern playfield for actvism, we have something very dangerous on our hands. Dont underestimate these “teenage guys”. This is not kiddie stuff – they are holding a lot of power.

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