from Alternet Website
WikiLeaks and Julian Assange have been much in the news lately, but hacktivism - the nontraditional use of computing technology to advance political causes - has been around for a long time.
Here we offer a primer on 10 of the most
significant hacktivist actions of all time.
...all in support of the Zapatista guerrilla movement in Mexico.
Floodnet, which has subsequently been released as part of EDT’s “Disturbance Developer Kit,” allowed users to participate in a sit-in attack on these sites by a simple click on an icon on EDT's Web site. The Floodnet software then directed the participating computers to continually attack the target Web sites.
It has been estimated that 10,000 people
accessed Floodnet in this two-day action resulting in targeted servers being
hit at a rate of 600,000 hits per minute.
The Tigers, protesting the Sri Lankan government, organized email bombings (flooding servers with email) that attacked the Sri Lankan consulates in Seoul and Ottowa, taking them offline.
The message flooding the servers was also quite simple:
3. Hong Kong Blondes
It was started by Blondie Wong, who had reportedly witnessed his father being stoned to death during the 1966-'76 Cultural Revolution. Primarily protesting censorship and the violations of human rights that occurred in China, the group launched cyberattacks against the "Great Wall" - a series of firewalls put in place to block access to Western Internet sites.
With members operating inside and outside of China, the group claimed to have found significant security holes within Chinese government computer networks and claimed to have defaced government Web sites, torn down firewalls and even disabled Chinese communication satellites.
They worked to forewarn political dissidents of
Two days prior to the launch of the plutonium-fueled Galileo space probe from the Kennedy Space Station, NASA employees logged on to see a humorous yet frightening welcome screen:
The machines of the U.S. Department of Energy
and NASA worldwide had been penetrated by the anti-nuclear WANK (WORMS
AGAINST NUCLEAR KILLERS) worm.
Because the worm avoided attacking the computers in Australia and New Zealand and the worm source code showed specific instructions to avoid infecting machines in New Zealand, it is suspected that the attack originated from Australia.
Some have credited the Melbourne-based hackers,
Electron and Phoenix.
The action targeted the Web sites of various French government agencies to protest French nuclear and social policies. A web sit-in occurs when the attackers generate a sufficient volume of traffic to a Web site, preventing any legitimate traffic from accessing the site. In this case participants from all over the world were instructed to point their browsers toward designated sites and constantly reload the pages.
Because of the excessive traffic, the targeted
Web sites were made unavailable.
The goal was to support and bring attention to the people of Timor, who had been oppressed and violated for decades by the Indonesian government.
It is by most accounts the first large-scale
Depressingly, but not surprisingly, the court sided with the corporation, granting an injunction against etoy on Nov. 29 of that year. What eToys didn’t count on was a group of hacktivists, incensed by the injustice of the court decision, launching an internet sit-in against eToys.com from Dec. 15-25, effectively clogging the Web site during the Christmas shopping season.
What was interesting about the sit-in was that it was structured as an online game in which the goal of players was the devaluation of eToys stock. And indeed, eToy’s stock began to fall immediately after the campaign started, and the company went out of business within a short period of time.
Some commentators consider the sit-in to be a
significant contributing factor to the corporation’s collapse.
Called the World’s Fantabulous Defacers, its modus operandi was to deface institutional Web sites by inserting flash videos and audio files that highlighted human rights violations against Muslim populations (the goal being to raise “global awareness” - which presumably explains why the defacements were in English).
Alexandra Samuel, then a PhD student,
interviewed two of the principle actors of WFD (M0r0n and nightman), and
learned that they had a fairly large portfolio of causes in the Muslim
So you see we are FOR all those people suffering
in the world against atrocities!
The group itself took its most important defacements to be of the Bollywood Stock Exchange and Cricketbulls.com (a site that trades imaginary shares in leading Indian cricket players).
The group supposedly ceased to be active in
2002, and there is some speculation that it was absorbed into some of the
larger Muslim hacktivist groups that continue to exist today.
The project was started as a “mental warfare”
response to the
Church of Scientology's attempts to prevent
the online sharing of a video interview with actor/Scientologist Tom Cruise.
The project's goals were to,
The initial cyber attack, which came in the form
of a distributed denial of service attack, was followed by black faxes,
prank calls, and other activities intended to disrupt the Church of
Operation Payback started because the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America) and MPAA (Motion Picture Association of America) have been hiring law firms and programming companies to take down Torrent sites (peer-to-peer computer networks used to share movies and music and other digital media).
The stated goal of Operation Payback is to put an end to what Anonymous perceives to be lobbyist-driven infringements of personal freedom online. To counter these actions, Anonymous has launched an elaborate cyberwar campaign against the entertainment companies and the firms that were hired to hunt down and sue the alleged infringers.
In recent weeks, Anonymous has launched DDoS
attacks against the Web sites of RIAA, Aiplex, and ACS:Law, as well as
Gallant MacMillan and its client the Ministry of Sound. All these sites have
been taken down for several hours.
This in turn exposed the crass and humiliating tactics the company used to extract money from alleged infringers through out-of-court settlements.
The leaked documents also revealed that only
one-fifth of the money collected from damages paid was given to the rights
holders, meaning the law firm kept 80 percent of the money before paying
ISPs and IP tracking companies.
As a consequence, hacktivist methods and tools are now used fluently by tens of thousands of people around the world.
Current government obsession with
WikiLeaks is pointless; the jinni is out of