Wikileaks and the revenge of Anonymous
Let’s get a few things straight. Anonymous is not an organized group. It’s a bunch of people, mostly hailing from the online forum 4chan, who are out to do anything they damn well please. They are seldom politically motivated, and usually just do whatever feels like fun at the time. They do not have a leader. If Anonymous posts something, it’s just.. a guy. A regular person acting as the voice of this internet flash-mob, if you can call it that.
Basically how it goes is: Someone thinks something needs to be done. They make a post on 4chan, and if this person is successful in rousing enough interest, something happens. This is a pure game of luck. Most of the time, people will call you names, and tell you to go have intercourse with your mother, or a goat. But sometimes, you can get enough people, critical mass, and then get them to do something.
Various things 4chan “anonymous” has done in the past, include: Posting threats on the door of a Swedish forum operator (a forum which allows the posting of child pornography) and videotape the proceedings, to placing pubic-hair inside various (mostly Scientology related) religious books in bookstores around New York. Now, this random “Eye of Sauron” has turned it’s gaze upon those who seek to harm wikileaks.
Operation Payback is the name of this particular set of fun. Some anonymous created a tool called LOIC (low orbit ion cannon), which works on all platforms and makes participating in a distributed denial of service attack so easy, that you hardly need any skill at all. This is not hacking and most people using LOIC have no idea of what they are doing. Basically it has a nice GUI which allows you to type in a target website or IP, and then hit “Fire!”, to start attacking the host. Just like in the movies. So far they have targeted the Swedish Justice department, taking down their site for a good while, disrupting mastercard.com, and even causing payment verification to fail according to some reports. Visa.com was next, after they announced their block of wikileaks. Amazon was on the menu today.
Basically it’s just people doing stuff that seems fun. Like people demonstrating without really knowing what or who they are demonstrating for. They see it as fun, being a part of something bigger. Again: It’s very vaguely co-ordinated, and a group of Anonymous can disperse as quickly as they gathered. Next week maybe they will paint penises on bus stops. Who knows.
I’m not quite sure these DDOS attacks are a good thing. First of all they are not hackers. They are script kiddies at most, and i would bet even they would be insulted if these people were given that name. Yes. I think Visa, and Mastercard, Amazon and Paypal, Easydns, and a number of other companies need to think very carefully about what they do, if they intend to keep their clients.
I do realize the government can do really scary things, especially the US government. But you need to keep in mind that the people of this world will not look at your cowardly actions for much longer. You need to draw lines, agreed. But do so across the board. And once you go down the path of censorship, there is no turning back. If you do choose that path, go all the way. But don’t block one site, and leave others, like Paypal, still accepting donations for foundations supported by the Ku Klux Clan, an inherently evil racist group. You can’t donate to promote freedom of speech, but you can donate to support racism and hate.
Am i the only one who does not find any sense in this?
The other half of me thinks that the attacks on these companies serve no purpose, and are no better than the people opposing wikileaks. Isn’t preventing these sites from being accessed the same damn thing? Preventing these companies from exercising their own brand of freedom of speech? Though they have acted cowardly, and clearly under duress, do they deserve the same treatment. I haven’t decided. But i do think there is an inherent “Lulz”-factor in all of this. Visa denies donations to wikileaks, and they are taken down, costing them money as well. While i don’t condone clearly illegal activities (both those against wikileaks, and the companies mentioned), i don’t feel sorry for them either. You reap what you sow.
Somehow there is a curious sense of justice and irony to all of this, dontcha’ think?