WikiLeaks avengers unlikely to hurt Amazon or Visa, expert says
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EUOBSERVER / BRUSSELS – Hackers who have vowed to punish firms such as Amazon, Visa, MasterCard and PayPal for cutting off WikiLeaks are unlikely to do much damage unless they link up with organised crime, a British expert on cyber security has said.
“This group could obtain the power to do something seriously damaging. But it would cost them a lot of money. They are more likely to temporarily increase the flow of traffic to these companies’ websites, which would increase their costs but would not seriously disrupt normal services,” Tony Dyhouse, an expert for UK think-tank Digital Systems Knowledge Transfer Network, who advises the British intelligence services on cyber security, told EUobserver on Tuesday (6 December).
Mr Dyhouse explained that a mass-scale denial of service (DOS or DDOS) attack would require hackers to hire giant botnets, networks of computers which are controlled by third parties to send spam to targets, from organised crime groups which control the majority of DOS capabilities available on the Internet today.
“Currently the largest numbers of compromised machines lie in the hands of organised crime, because they are used for phishing [identity theft] and spam. Over the past six years or so, organised crime has hired all the best hackers. Organised crime got into the game when they realised how much money they could make.”
Mr Dyhouse’s remarks come after one group of hackers, called Anonymous, publicly vowed to take revenge on the anti-WikiLeaks companies in the name of freedom of information on the Internet.
The British expert says “nobody knows” who Anonymous really are: “These groups start up quickly in chat rooms because of a shared interest. Some people have suggested there is US state influence behind the Amazon and PayPal decisions. They have perceived a form of censorship, of Big Brother activity, so they agreed to work together on this … These people have a vested interest in protecting the anonymity and freedom of the Internet, so anything that threatens that, they will pick up on it.”
With WikiLeaks publishing a further 100-or-so classified US cables on Wednesday morning despite the arrest of Cablegate mastermind Julian Assange on Tuesday, Mr Dyhouse said there is very little the US can do to stop further disclosures and nothing it can do to remove the content already in the public domain.
“The central repository of information – we don’t know where it’s gone, where it’s been sent. He’s very likely to have given the entirety of the information to a number of people. Once information has been released, once it’s in the wrong hands, you can’t get it back,” he said, noting that encrypted zip files purportedly containing all 250,000 Cablegate texts are doing the rounds on the web. “The information that’s been published is now in storage areas all over the world, you can never get it back.” Read more…
‘Anonymous’ targets PayPal to support WikiLeaks
The hacker website has begun to organize its members, known collectively as Anonymous, in an effort to prevent “the oppressive future which looms ahead.” The “Operation Avenge Assange” will consist of a series of Internet attacks that have begun with PayPal.
Julian Assange is a man who has made enemies. The editor-in-chief and creator of WikiLeaks is fighting battles on all fronts: legally, financially, personally and professionally, and even now sits in a jail cell in England following his arrest earlier today, after Sweden issued an arrest warrant stemming from four charges of sexual offences, including one of rape. But Assange is not without his allies, either. One of the more potentially powerful groups to throw in its support is the website 4chan, and its some of its members that are collectively known as Anonymous.
The group that is either famous or infamous depending on your point of view, have begun a new campaign to support WikiLeaks and its creator that they are calling “Operation Avenge Assange”.
Operation Avenge Assange is a systematic attack that will target groups that Anonymous has deemed to have essentially treated Assange unfairly. The first target on the list is PayPal, which reports that cyber attacks have already begun. Read more…