Anonymous activists who engage in offline activism often dress up like this or wear Guy Fawkes masks. "Anonymous", since carrying out DDoS attacks in defense of WikiLeaks, is the target of an FBI cyber-crime investigation. by Scott Beale / Laughing Squid
Anonymous, a hacktivist organization that had some of its members and friends arrested and targeted yesterday for DDoS attacks in defense of WikiLeaks, is helping to provide support to Egyptians as the uprising unfolds.
Andy Greenberg writes on his blog on Forbes.com, "Egypt has dropped a digital iron curtain over its Internet. So WikiLeaks' fans are using an analog tool to smuggle the secret-spilling site's latest scandals into the country: fax machines. And, adds "the loose hacker group Anonymous began a campaign to fax thousands of copies of WikiLeaks' latest missives -"a series of State Department cables revealing human rights abuses under Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and tacit U.S. backing for his administration -"to Egyptian numbers."
Anonymous put out this press release to "Governments of the World." It states:
Those holding political power in Egypt have chosen to answer the people's calls for democracy with lethal violence. International organisations must take it upon themselves to heed these calls at this turning point in history. Democratic governments cannot idly stand by. We call upon you to take action and show the world that you are on the side of the people and their fight for freedom and democracy.
Your support of the popular uprisings in Arabic countries has been ambiguous, if not absent altogether. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton exemplified the indecisiveness of the international community as she claimed that the US "could not take sides". Neutrality amounts to complicity as totalitarian regimes are showing their contempt for the citizens' right to protest. Mubarak's regime attempted to disconnect the Egyptian people from the rest of the world by cutting off internet communication, while his foot soldiers shot civilians
The press release ends with this statement: "Anonymous has made its choice. We will take sides. We will support people who strive for freedom of speech, assembly and communication - the civil rights essential for the people to forge their own futures."
Earlier in the week, Anonymous called for DDoS attacks on Egyptian government websites.
Previously posted article appears below.
Americans whom the FBI claimed were involved or connected to "distributed denial of serice" (DDoS) attacks on PayPal, Mastercard and Visa, which a loose group of activists known as "Anonymous" took credit for as payback for stopping donations to WikiLeaks. Forty warrants were issued and, although he was not arrested or charged with a crime by the FBI. One San Francisco Bay Area man was reported to have had several computers and a web server confiscated by the FBI.
An FBI press release put out on the search warrants suggests this is part of an ongoing cyber investigation. The release explained, "DDoS are facilitated by software tools designed to damage a computer network's ability to function by flooding it with useless commands and information, thus denying service to legitimate users. A group calling itself "Anonymous" has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies' and organizations' actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries."
It explicitly outlined a reminder that "facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability." And it placed the U.S. warrants in the context of the five arrests of five individuals in the UK yesterday who are suspected of being involved in the DDoS attacks while also explaining the FBI is working with "international law enforcement partners."
The cyber investigation, according to the release, is getting assistance from the National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, an alliance the Washington Post reported in 2007 is "an investigative center with 18 agents from the Department of Homeland Security, the FBI and the U.S. Postal Service" that "receives data and assistance from more than 300 private companies and other anti-fraud groups." Primarily, students and researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, which is nearby, work to "counter malicious programs." As of 2007, the alliance was primarily focused on "pharmaceutical fraud, extortion and schemes to steal data from bank customers as they log in to their accounts" and on looking into the manipulation of stock markets.
Ryan Singel, who blogs for Wired.com, points out, "In the attacks on the financial-service companies, thousands downloaded a tool called LOIC -- or Low Orbit Ion Cannon -- that joined their computer to the group attack on the target of the moment. However, the tool did nothing to hide a user's IP address, making it possible for the target website to hand its server logs over to the authorities to track users down by their IP addresses."
What Singel is describing is something central to debates over what is known as data retention. Just this week, the U.S. Department of Justice renewed calls for mandatory data retention requirements that would require companies or organizations to retain customer usage data for up to two years to "fight Internet crimes."
Worldwide, moves by authorities to clampdown on privacy of information is exactly why organizations or companies that don't want to have to give up their information are interested in anonymizing traffic to neutralize data retention laws. For example, WikiLeaks' ISP reported January 27 that it was fighting back against the European Data Retention Directive by running all customer traffic through an encrypted virtual private network (VPN), which would mean they wouldn't know what their customers are doing, there would not be much to log, and with little to log there would never be anything useful in the logs if authorities or anti-piracy companies requested to see the logs.
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