In an apparent act of retaliation, Anonymous, a prevalent hacktivist organization, debilitated multiple websites Thursday afternoon including those belonging to the FBI and the US Justice Department. The act was in response to the same-day governmental take down of file sharing giant Megaupload.com.
The Guardian reports:
Shortly after the Hong Kong-based website was taken down, hackers associated with Anonymous managed to briefly disable several US websites including those for the White House, FBI, Department of Justice and others associated with Warner Music and Universal Music.[...]
"We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites," said a statement purporting to be from the Anonymous group. "The FBI didn't think they would get away with this did they? They should have expected us."
The statement also detailed what appeared to be private details, including home address and birth dates, relating to the family of Chris Dodd, chief executive of the Hollywood studios' trade body, the Motion Picture Association of America.
The list of tarnished websites include: Justice.gov, FBI.gov, USDOJ.gov, BMI.com (music licensing), Copyright.gov, Hadopi.fr (French copyright law), MPAA.org (motion picture industry), RIAA.org (recording industry), and WMG.com (Warner Music).
AFP offers more detail about the activists:
According to computer security researchers, Anonymous does not have a central authority but operates with a "hive mind mentality," agreeing on targets in discussions in Internet chat rooms and striking simultaneously.
Anonymous, on @anonops, one of the various Twitter accounts used by the group, claimed that Thursday's attacks on the Justice Department and FBI websites were their largest ever, involving over 5,600 people.
The distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks were similar to those staged by Anonymous in late 2010 on the Amazon, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal websites in retaliation for their decisions to stop working with WikiLeaks.
In a typical DDoS attack, a large number of computers are commanded to simultaneously visit a website, overwhelming its servers, slowing service or knocking it offline completely.
RT conducted an interview with Barrett Brown an associate of Anonymous:
Anonymous's action comes during a week of Internet turmoil including the unprecedented online blackout/protest of SOPA/PIPA and the concurrent tabling of said legislation by lawmakers and presidential candidates alike. As The Guardian reports today:
In a dramatic display of the power of online protest, a congressional vote on the anti-piracy bills Pipa and Sopa have been shelved after some of the internet's main players demanded a legislative rethink.
Just two days after chunks of the internet went dark in opposition to proposals that critics claim will hamper the flow of online information, Senate majority leader Harry Reid announced the postponement of a planned ballot on Pipa, also known as the Protect IP Act.
Lamar Smith, the Republican chairman of the House Judiciary committee, followed suit, saying his panel would delay action on similar legislation called the Stop Online Piracy Act, or Sopa, until there is wider agreement on the legislation.
The decision to postpone the votes was made in light of "recent events", Reid said – taken to be a reference to Wednesday's day of action in which Wikipedia led the way with a 24-hour blackout.