Saturday, December 11, 2010

Denial of Service

It is really fascinating how the Wikileaks issue is playing out...After spending decades lecturing the Russians and the Chinese on the joys of a free press, the US government has now doing everything it can to kill the messenger - Assange.

It started out with 'distributed denial of service' (DDOS) attacks on Wikileaks sites, then forced governments to hunt him down with an Interpol lookout, and now, it is forcing private companies to sever links with Wikileaks.

And then, over the past week, faceless netizens started fighting back. A group calling itself AnonOps brought down Visa Inc’s site throuh a DDOS attack. Another group called Anonymous has targeted mainly companies which have decided for whatever reason not to deal with WikiLeaks, and their hit-list includes Amazon, MasterCard, Visa and PayPal. Some of these "hacktivists" called this Operation Payback.

How do DDOS attacks work?

According to CERT, denial of service attacks can take three forms:
  1. consumption of scarce, limited, or non-renewable resources (usually bandwidth)
  2. destruction or alteration of configuration information
  3. physical destruction or alteration of network components
In the case of Operation Payback in support of Wikileaks, new tools are being adapted to make DDOS attacks easier. One of them is called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) software available as a free download from SourceForge (Hive Mind LOIC). This one, according to the Register, can be used to launch attacks even from an iPhone!
Today, the Dutch police arrested a 16-year-old for such an attack on MasterCard and Visa. So the hacktivists are changing is one that was published yesterday by BoingBoing:

Wonder where this will lead to...


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