Hacking for Revolution: LulzSec Goes Viral and the FBI Go Wild
- by karlsie
- Posted on 24 June, 2011
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.
Karla Fetrow- The corporations, big business and governments only want secrecy so they can appear as heroes. They are not concerned about harm…
Excellent. This is an area wher I see our youth taking no shite and I am glad of it.
I just read an article in which the author opined that Anonymous was responsible for the freezing up of Assange’s bank account. In her expert opinion, she also stated that LulzSec was breaking up from within through a popularity based power struggle. It’s absolutely amazing what the spin doctors will do to appear to be without sin.
OK, but let’s get some facts straight please.
Cleary got arrested because he leaked a LulSec chat transcript, and then Lulzec released his details online. All the cops had to do was go pick him up. It’s not like the FBI did the hard work of finding him.
Also, how does the author KNOW that #Anonymous are all “teenagers and 20 year olds”? Maybe they are middle-aged Syrian lesbians in disguise.
Gary, thank you for clearing up just how Cleary came to be targeted and arrested. None of the news reports contained any details. As far as Anonymous goes, i reviewed their web site and blogs quite a few months ago after receiving an anonymous tip at our forum. What i saw there, i did not find offensive. I raised two teenagers who were careful to invite half the community of young people to my house and give me a full dose of the teen to twenty year old tastes in music, entertainment, art and vocabulary. Many of the blogs sounded very much like this busy young set, and some showed an enormous amount of talent. If Anonymous is in fact, middle-aged Syrian lesbians, i give them props for their amazing writing abilities. They can be funny; hilarious, in fact. They can be provocative. I have no doubt they like to pull pranks, but they advocate freedom of press. As a writer, that’s something i can’t just shrug my shoulders and ignore.
Very good article, K. I don’t endorse terrorism or even revolution but I concede that corrupt government breeds this sort of reaction. I really like the fact that this is a non-violent war, one that costs the government money–where it really hurts. And of course, the government responds with violence. In many cases, the terrorist group is far less evil than the institution.
@ The Late Mitchell Warren,
Pray tell, why do you refrain from endorsing a revolution? It’s obvious by now that the American experiment has failed to achieve its stated goals and intentions of a government “of the people, by the people, for the people.” If anything the exact opposite has been brought about!
Personally, I think that a revolution is the only thing that can change any of this and that little hacking escapades by Anonymous and company is merely an initial expression of anger – one that will provoke establishment use of force which will in turn likely escalate the conflict into a full-blown civil war sometime in the next decade. The end result will be one of two things: an all-powerful fascist police state or balkanization – I hope for the latter…
Mitch, it surprises me to hear you do not endorse revolution. Revolution; in its strictest sense; is a rotation. We see patterns in historical human behaviors because our progression is circular; the entire rise and fall of civilizations is direct evidence. When a civilization reaches a certain point in evolution, it needs revolution; that is, the motivation of new knowledge and awareness to continue; or else it falls into stagnancy.
Revolutions are not always and are not necessarily, instruments of war. The Renascence was a peaceful revolution of the arts that flourished magnificently for six hundred years. The industry that marked the twentieth century is called the industrial revolution. What we are going into now is an information revolution. It might be quite painful for those who built their reputations as authorities on subjects they assumed the average person would never be able to understand or who managed to retain control over a population by keeping them ignorant. It can be painful for people who wanted to know the truth but had never been given the facts or an alternative point of view, and even those who had learned the facts but had never considered there was an alternative point of view.
Facts, alternative points of view, rapidly expanding technology, comprise our information revolution. Those countries that would suppress the global exchange of information, miss the chance to become part of the world wide revolution. They will be the countries mired in dictatorships, suppression through violence, stagnating into barbarism while the revolutionary countries move forward.
Revolution implies that I think the campaign will make a difference. It also implies that I would give my support to a cause that I don’t completely understand, and one that I have no control over. To lend my support to revolution, in the broadest sense, means that I assume responsibility for the deaths and the injustices that the revolution brings. I don’t want that responsibility. To imply that I approve of revolution would be to say that I approve of the current United States of America, since its founding was in the spirit of perceived revolution. If I lent support to Anon or Lulzsec, it would also imply that I endorse Al Qaeda and PETA, two other terrorist organizations that were created for a perceived righteous cause.
I do admire the peaceful assault of Anon and Luzlsec and I do enjoy watching a corrupt organization like the US crumble to the ground because a modern day Robin Hood is draining them of assets. But I am a perpetual viewer, enjoying the show that is human existence.
Whether these governments and their revolutionary spawns succeed or fail is irrelevant; the world turns and turns regardless of the delusions of human beings and their political toys. People commit suicide and genocide for the most entertaining reasons; their perfect world, their ideological plane, their animalistic instinct for warmth and security.
The one thing I do believe in is total freedom of expression, the right to complain, to question, and to promote one’s own cause. Hence, Subversify publishes everything from right wing hate speech to left wing propaganda, to the cries of martyrs and revolutionaries who are oblivious as to the ramifications of what they ask for.
Laurie Juspeczyk: “Everyone will die!”
Jon Osterman: And the universe will not even notice.
“Revolutions are not always and are not necessarily, instruments of war. The Renascence was a peaceful revolution of the arts that flourished magnificently for six hundred years.”
Karlsie, just as the renaissance period was one of revolution, so today is the emergence of broken English, ebonics, abbreviations and pointless Face Book status messages. Revolution happens, including literary revolution, and it’s not always pretty.
I have a very good idea of the ramifications of revolution – I know that there will be plenty of death and destruction should one occur (and I for one do not expect to remain unaffected by it), but I see such a thing as inevitable: sooner or later there’s going to be a major social upheaval (probably before the end of the decade) and the longer it’s postponed the more violent the eventual destruction will be.
I don’t call for revolution because I love violence, I do it because I don’t see anything else happening – either the state will be destroyed or it will eventually enslave us all…
Mitch, a devolving language is one of the marks of stagnancy. Stripping a language down to its bare minimums removes the color of style, the persuasion of emotional rendition, the lyrical quality that accompanies the pleasure of reading literature. There is eloquence in making a statement in as few words as possible; this is why we have poetry. However, when this brevity breaks down into common language, it becomes routine; like watching nothing but commercials and no story. What you are illustrating is devolution, not revolution.
Not even a saint can prevent violence in his or her name. In fact, the more saint like a person, the more violent the reaction if wrong doing comes to the person. Any time you speak out against an injustice, or attempt to assist the victims of an unjust legislation, you are encouraging the dynamics of revolution. You are challenging people to heighten their sense of awareness beyond blind obedience to arbitrary law. You don’t have to go into politics. You don’t have to take up a gun, but each thing you write that widens a perspective, changes a point of view or presents a social/personal/ethical dilemma, contributes to revolution for revolution is motion. It’s growth and awareness, sweeping into change, shaping the voice of tomorrow. What doesn’t revolve, stands still, which is a luxury only for unalienable truths.
Since lulzsec has broken up must all of us assume that they are not about to reform themselves? Inside their newest manifesto they assert they are doing it for lulz additionally, the thrill of observing persons suffering the consequences of a hack. I think this sort of high adreneline is addicting, and not only will they get back together under a completely new brand but they also will take more risks than they did as lulzsec. The near future is kind of scary actually if this really does occur.
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