The Criminal and the Blunder
It must have felt like a victory for the International Police when they arrested two teenagers for the December, 2010 malware attacks on the major credit card companies, Master Charge, Pay Pal and Visa. The responsibility for the attacks was connected to a group called “Anonymous”, protesting the freezing of Wikileaks leader, Julian Assange’s assets following his arrest for a sex demeanor. After some initial International attention, the Anonymous site, comprised mainly of teenagers and twenty year olds, was swept under the rug as basically a gathering of young hoodlums absorbed in pranks and vulgar language. The victory was very short -lived. On June 15th of this year, the CIA website was hit by a DDoS attack, and the Detroit FBI headquarters were bombarded with a phone DOS. The Senate also claims the group, who call themselves LulzSec attempted to break into their website for the second time.
Retaliation by the government networks has been swift. On June 21, FBI agents raided a data base center in Reston, Virginia, which primarily offers such services as high speed DSL, Internet cable and telephone. It is also attached to the Swiss based DigitalOne. The FBI took three enclosures with equipment plugged into them, taking out the sites of Curbed Network which included blogs on real estate, restaurants and shopping. Instapaper, a service that saves articles, and the bookmarking site Pinboard suffered as well.
Sergej Ostroumow, Chief executive of DigitalOne, said that the FBI took servers used by “tens of clients” even though they were only after one client. Ostroumow called the agency’s work “unprofessional”. The raid caused a number of websites to go offline, including those run by the New York publisher Curbed Network, whose page is primarily devoted to dining, nightlife, shopping, design and real estate. In an e-mail to one of its clients on Tuesday afternoon, DigitalOne’s chief executive, Sergej Ostroumow, said: “This problem is caused by the F.B.I., not our company. In the night F.B.I. has taken 3 enclosures with equipment plugged into them, possibly including your server — we cannot check it.” The F.B.I. has remained silent.
On June 22, nineteen year old Ryan Cleary was arrested and charged with five counts of violating British law in regard to cyberattacks. The charges include allegations that he launched DDoS attacks against the Serious Organized Crime Agency, the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry, and the British Phonographic Industry.
Lulzsec denies Cleary is a part of their group. They say at most, Cleary ran a server on which one of LulzSec’s many chat rooms had been hosted. “Clearly the UK police are so desperate to catch us that they’ve gone and arrested someone who is, at best, mildly associated with us. Lame,” said the group via Twitter. In one message, they taunted, “Seems the glorious leader of LulzSec got arrested, it’s all over now… wait… we’re all still here! Which poor bastard did they take down?”
LulzSec More Popular than Obama
Even though authorities ominously warn they are closing in on LulzSec, the group doesn’t seem extremely concerned. With Cleary in custody and Keystone cop styled FBI agents refusing to apologize to DigitalOne, hackers focused on several targets in Brazil, including the Websites of the Brazilian government and the President’s office. On the same day that Cleary was whisked away for interrogation, LulzSec announced another missile hit. “Tango down,” LulzSec trumpeted on its Twitter feed – a phrase used to describe the obliteration of an enemy. Later, LulzSec followed that tweet up with a second: “Our Brazilian unit is making progress. Well done @LulzSecBrazil, brothers!”
The Obama administration wants to crack down on cyber attacks that infiltrate government computers. Even before the recent high-profile attacks on the public sites for the CIA and the Senate, the Obama administration was pressuring Congress to double the punishment for those found guilty of compromising national security. If the new legislation is passed, breaking into a US government computer could earn a culprit a 20-year prison sentence if national security is at stake. Currently that crime carries a punishment of only ten years max. Computer theft, which carries a $5,000 fine now — could become a10-year sentence, and attempts to unlawfully access a government computer could become a three-year term behind bars.
Additionally, the government introduced a bill to strengthen the security of government data against possible attacks by proposing a kind of immunity from civil liability for all companies in infrastructure critical structure (ie, corporate defense, security and economy of the country) so that there is a continuous exchange of information with the government through Homeland Security.
Apparently, transparency is meant only for the public and airline passengers. While the US Government puts on its Internet armor and bristles with threats against the New Age bandits, LulzSec are apparently very popular. With a following of over 150,000 Twitter fans, they’ve announced they are now open to public suggestions. What company, organization, big, bad boogey man would you like to see cyber attacked? According to the website, Huliq, The group is taking requests via a phone line they have set up. On the first day of this hacking offering, LulzSec recieved 5,000 missed calls and 2,500 voice mails. They have dubbed their opening day, “#TitanicTakeoverTuesday.” This call-in -line is for people to leave a message with their suggestions for LulzSec’s next hacking target. The group is fielding the suggestions and when they decide on a target, they will hack into its database and post damaging information on the web.
LultzSec reports that it is getting 5-20 phone calls per second and they can forward their number anywhere in the world. They are asking for the public’s suggestions on where to forward these calls. As of right now they are forwarding their call-in number to the customer support line of various businesses, including magnets.com and World of Warcraft. Another tweet today asks if you would like to suggest a business to forward these phone calls to.
While the authorities have not commented on LulzSec’s newest public hacking offering, according to PC Magazine, they are most likely investigating. Under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, this type of activity can get you 5 to 20 years in prison if convicted.
There has been a lot of speculation that Anonymous and LulzSec have teamed up, although in the past they enjoyed taking pot shots at each other as rival Internet gangs. On June 19th. they announced from their site at Pastebin, “As we’re aware, the government and whitehat security terrorists across the world continue to dominate and control our Internet ocean. Sitting pretty on cargo bays full of corrupt booty, they think it’s acceptable to condition and enslave all vessels in sight. Our Lulz Lizard battle fleet is now declaring immediate and unremitting war on the freedom-snatching moderators of 2011.
Welcome to Operation Anti-Security (#AntiSec) – we encourage any vessel, large or small, to open fire on any government or agency that crosses their path. We fully endorse the flaunting of the word “AntiSec” on any government website defacement or physical graffiti art. We encourage you to spread the word of AntiSec far and wide, for it will be remembered. To increase efforts, we are now teaming up with the Anonymous collective and all affiliated battleships.
Whether you’re sailing with us or against us, whether you hold past grudges or a burning desire to sink our lone ship, we invite you to join the rebellion. Together we can defend ourselves so that our privacy is not overrun by profiteering gluttons. Your hat can be white, gray or black, your skin and race are not important. If you’re aware of the corruption, expose it now, in the name of Anti-Security.
Top priority is to steal and leak any classified government information, including email spools and documentation. Prime targets are banks and other high-ranking establishments. If they try to censor our progress, we will obliterate the censor with cannonfire anointed with lizard blood.”
A Call to Heroes
Strong words to carry us into disturbing times; times when corruption has already been exposed, over and over again; the perpetrators identified, yet allowed to walk free. Civil war rumbles in the Mideast. Riots rock Western Europe. In the United States, a form of censorship permeates the media. The headlines thrive on scandal instead of world affairs. They fret over Christian influences and immigration instead of economic and energy solutions. Feeding off the publicity of dancing stars and pornographic Senators, they ignore the policies that restrict the freedom to travel, dissolve the assets they worked hard to acquire and limit free speech. They do this because they feel helpless.
Helplessness; a chronic condition that leads to co-dependency and depression. People accept being fired from a job two years before retirement so another, younger person can take their place for a cheaper wage because they feel helpless to do anything about it. They let the banks foreclose on their mortgaged homes, or lose them through inability to pay their taxes, because they see no way of extracting justice; or at least an equitable settlement. They send their children off to wars they do not understand, to countries they do not care about, because they see no other career for them except a job at Walmarts. They know that big government looms over them, ever more intrusive, more demanding of service without serving, but feel powerless to confront it. At a time when the economy is floundering and social programs are needed most, the programs are not there. They have a co-dependency on a dependent that gives them only table scraps in return.
The true is, these mega-corporations, these financial institutions that have destroyed the global ability to self-sustain, need the public for their own subsistence. They need the public to believe their welfare is being cared for, even though it isn’t. They spend millions of dollars on propaganda when those millions could be funneled into projects that clean waterways and rebuild infrastructure. They spend more millions battling in court, denying responsibility for safety infractions that have caused loss to limb, life and the environment, instead of compensating the victims.
LulzSec is more popular than the US Government. If the arbitrators for Homeland Security had tweeted, “another victory. We’ve increased the penalty for those who publish State secrets,” nobody would cheer. If Obama had tweeted, “we need more troops in Afghanistan, but we can’t pay you. You’ll have to volunteer”, nobody would step forward and take up a gun. The chances are greater that the public is composing their own wish list of corporations and governments to put down, than they are contemplating how to stop the cyber attackers.
We are a world that will quickly take up arms against perceived aggressors, but hesitates at violent revolution. The cyber war commits no overt violence. The attackers cause no damage to life or limb. They barely make a dent in the economic security of the servers they invade. Those servers are back on line in a matter of days or hours. The information removed from them is information that tells us how we have been manipulated, blind-folded and fooled into giving away our natural and human resources, and into turning against each other. It’s information we needed to know, and it’s all out there. The only question left is, what to do about it.
Humpty Dumpty has fallen off the wall, and the pieces can’t be put back together. The time for subterfuge and deceit is over. A bully might get what he wants from his classmates, obedience, material goods, unlimited attention, but he doesn’t get their affection. The tyrant might pass laws that are to his advantage, but the advantage doesn’t include respect. Suppressive laws might soften the voices of discontent, but not silence them. History will not turn the corporate and financial villains into heroes.
We all desire affection and respect. We’d rather be viewed as heroes than as villains, which is why the great anxiety of legislation to bury its dirty deeds and secrets under the sand. They are not worried about physical harm. They hide behind guns and self-serving laws. They are not worried that the cyber attacks will cause them economic distress. They are not concerned about public panic. They desire approval even as they pass laws that harm the public, even as they fix elections or drive their bulldozers onto unspoiled land. Censoring the press is not going to do this. Passing stiffer cyber crime laws is not going to stop the Internet war. The young people who fuel the LulzSec attacks on corporations and governments are the same young people who are targeted for indoctrination into wars that cause loss to limb and life. Within their youthful ideals, as legitimate as any era of youthful revolution, they are prepared to make sacrifices. As one comrade goes down, another takes his place.
The solution is to use those hoarded billions to transform the earth sickened with pollution and poisonous gasses. The solution is a healthy, prosperous job industry, instead of a barely concealed system of slavery. The solution is to use our resources wisely, saving something for tomorrow instead of leaving a wake of destruction everywhere corporations touch down. This solution would guarantee affection, respect and enough admiration to be labeled in the history books. Business as usual is not acceptable. Censorship and suppressive laws are not acceptable. Become a hero, implementing change that is for the improvement of mankind, implementing policies that guarantee equitable exchange, turning the earth back into a garden, or when all has been said and done, and the book closed, you will be a villain.