Anonymous uses new website-based DDoS attack following MegaUpload takedown
In the past, Anonymous has used Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, made possible by the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC), or the “Lulz Cannon,” in order to bombard a website with traffic until it temporarily collapses. In late 2010 and through the first half of 2011, Anonymous members would ask sympathetic internet users to download LOIC (which is in the public domain), and thus take part in a mass protest. (It should be noted that DDoS attacks are also used by government and corporations.)
As Occupy Wall Street ramped up, however, Anonymous’ DDoS attacks were more or less relegated to the tactical sidelines, but have now made a major comeback with the U.S. Department of Justice’s MegaUpload take down. (The four suspects appeared in a Auckland, New Zealand court today for extradition proceedings.)
As Gabriella Coleman noted in a Death and Taxes interview:
The problem with DDoS, from a tactical standpoint, is that it can lose its efficacy really quickly by being over-abused…
However, the difficult thing is that if you do entirely let it go as a protest tactic it’s not going to stop the corporations and governments from using it. So perhaps by totally stopping the tactic from being used, you’ve said, ‘Okay, we’ve stopped it but you guys go ahead and keep using it against groups.’ Perhaps the ideal path is to start thinking about under what conditions is it legitimate and powerful as a tactic and only deploy it under those conditions.
Yesterday’s Anonymous DDoS attacks are slightly different in nature—instead of downloading and daisy-chaining one’s computer to LOIC, those who followed a link on known Anonymous Twitter accounts or IRC (Internet Relay Chat) rooms were taken to a site where they were encouraged to “Join the hive!” Joining would then involve the user in the DDoS attack, whether knowingly or not.
This variant of the Lulz Cannon was used to bring down both government websites such as the Department of Justice and MPAA and RIAA-related websites, which were the lobbying forces behind the internet blacklist bills SOPA and PIPA, against which the SOPA Blackout this past Wednesday were directed.
Indeed, there’s no small amount of coincidence with the timing of the MegaUpload takedown set in relief against Wednesday’s Wikipedia and Reddit-led SOPA Blackout. However, while this new form of DDoS attack might well make it easier for Anonymous to execute its protest actions, as Coleman reminds us, it should not be abused though not altogether abandoned. Naturally, the FBI is investigating the Justice Department and FBI hacks claimed by Anonymous.
EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow echoed Coleman’s sentiment by stating in a Twitter post, “Dear Anonymous… I don’t want to sound like your Uncle Gandhi, but ddos is its own form of censorship. Chill, please.”
While Barry is not out of line in his request, the reality is that someone had to do the dirty work when the symbolic MegaUpload raid followed a major day of SOPA/PIPA protest. It was most likely the Department of Justice’s “nuclear option.”
Indeed, the government should know by now that one good turn deserves another.