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The arrests follow attacks against companies like MasterCard and Visa that cut funding to Wikileaks. Anonymous says that it is at "war" with the UK government following the arrests.  (Source: Guardian UK)
Fiery statement from Anonymous follows the arrest of several of the group's hackers

Amid the drama unfolding in Egypt, drama of a very different nature was unfolding in the U.S. over the weekend.  Hackers belonging to one of the highest profile online communities have accused the U.S. and UK governments of declaring "war" on them, and vow to fight back.

I.  The Search

The turmoil began on Thursday, when the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations executed 40 search warrants, raiding the houses of members of the group Anonymous, a 1,000+ member group of online enthusiasts/hackers who met on the image-board site 4Chan.

The raids followed Anonymous members coordinating and executing distributed denial of service (DDoS) and other malicious attacks on credit card companies and financial institutions.  The attacks came after those companies denied funding for controversial leaks site Wikileaks, saying that the site was supporting illegal activity.  The hackers used a DDoS program dubbed the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) tool -- an homage to Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back -- in their attacks.

Anonymous dubbed the attacks "Operation Payback".  The attacks were executed during the second week of December and succeeded in briefly disabling some of the targeted businesses' web portals.

Coldbood, Anonymous's unofficial spokesman described the attacks, stating:

Anonymous is supporting WikiLeaks not because we agree or disagree with the data that is being sent out, but we disagree with any from of censorship on the internet. If we let WikiLeaks fall without a fight then governments will think they can just take down any sites they wish or disagree with.

Authorities have since worked with financial institutions and antivirus software makers to weed out and block the LOIC, putting an end (for now) to the attacks.

II. The Arrests

Now international authorities are getting a bit of "payback" of their own.  In the Netherlands several arrests were reportedly made.  And in the UK five people ages 25 to 16 were taken in for questioning.  Among those arrested was the 22-year-old spokesperson, Coldblood.

Arrests may be in store in the U.S., as well, pending the results of the FBI's investigation.  As of Monday no U.S.-based arrests had been announced yet.

The FBI issued a press release, stating:

A group calling itself “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries.

The FBI also is reminding the public that facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability.

III.  Anonymous Says it is at "War"

Following the arrests Anonymous has released a statement [PDF] commenting:

Not only does it reveal the fact that you do not seem to understand the present-day political and technological reality, we also take this as a serious declaration of war from yourself, the UK government, to us, Anonymous, the people.

First and foremost, it is important to realize what a DDoS attack exactly is and what it means in the contemporary political context. As traditional means of protest (peaceful demonstrations, sit-ins, the blocking of a crossroads or the picketing of a factory fence) have slowly turned into nothing but an empty, ritualised gesture of discontent over the course of the last century, people have been anxiously searching for new ways to pressure politicians and give voice to public demands in a manner that might actually be able to change things for the better. Anonymous has, for now, found this new way of voicing civil protest in the form of the DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service, attack. Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest, we block

access to our opponents infrastructure to get our message across. Whether or not this infrastructure is located in the real world or in cyberspace, seems completely irrelevant to us.

Moreover, we would like to take this opportunity to set the record straight on the difference between a DDoS attack and hacking, as these concepts often seem to be confounded when media and policy-makers talk about Anonymous. Hacking as such is defined by the law as ‘unauthorised access to a computer or network’, whereas a DDoS attack is simply a case of thousands of people making legitimate connections to a publicly accessible webserver at the same time, using up the entire bandwidth or processing power of the given server at once and thereby causing a huge ‘traffic jam’.

It is clear then, that arresting somebody for taking part in a DDoS attack is exactly like arresting somebody for attending a peaceful demonstration in their hometown. Anonymous believes this right to peacefully protest is one of the fundamental pillars of any democracy and should not be restricted in any way.

Moreover, we have noted that similar attacks have also been carried out against Wikileaks itself, yet so far, nobody has been arrested in connection with these attacks, nor are there even any signs of an investigation into this issue at all. Yet, we know exactly who was responsible for that attack. Anonymous believes it is unfair and hypocritical to attempt to put these 5 arrested anons to trial without even attempting to find those who DDoS’ed a website which you oppose. We can therefore only assume that these arrests are politically motivated, and were being carried out under pressure from the US government. Anonymous can not, and will not, stand idle while this injustice is being done.

What exact steps Anonymous will take to fight back in this "war" against the UK and Netherlands governments remains to be seen.  It also remains to be seen whether the group will similarly call for a war against the U.S. if it makes arrests.

The members of Anonymous arrested in the UK face up to 10 years in prison and ~$8,000 USD in fines, under the UK's Computer Misuse Act.

In related news, Anonymous is calling for internet action [video] in support of protesters in Egypt.  The announcement comes after Egyptian authorities are seeking to block communication, impairing protesters' ability to organize.

Comments     Threshold

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By superPC on 1/31/2011 11:33:04 AM , Rating: 4
yup. saying sit in is analogues to DDOS works at the surface but once you go deeper the analogy fell apart.

but anonymous did raise a good point though: how come only DDOS attack that is pro to wikileaks that got prosecuted? how come none of the DDOS attack against wikileaks being prosecuted right now? aren't we all equal under the law?

if a convicted burglars house got robbed does he not deserve justice?

By Solandri on 1/31/2011 3:48:54 PM , Rating: 4
but anonymous did raise a good point though: how come only DDOS attack that is pro to wikileaks that got prosecuted? how come none of the DDOS attack against wikileaks being prosecuted right now? aren't we all equal under the law?

Mastercard is based in the U.S. If they complain to their government about the DDoS, and the government think it's a valid complaint, it will take action in response. Like sending the FBI after the perpetrators.

Wikileaks is(?) based in Australia and Switzerland. At least that's where their servers were. I don't think their organization even has a base in any country. It is not the FBI's responsibility to investigate DDoS attacks against Wikileaks (unless asked to do so by Australia/Switzerland in the course of their investigations). If Wikileaks wants to ask for their host government's assistance in investigating the DDoS attacks against them, they are free to do so. Maybe that government might actually help them despite all the bridges they've burnt by taking a broad "no secret is safe" approach to leaks.

And that gets to a point I think a lot of people are missing. They're being blinded by their philosophical zeal for the idea of free information, and their ideological schadenfreude at seeing the corporate and big-government targets of Wikileaks squirm. They're forgetting that power is not just a state of being, it's a process. It's not enough to simply have power, you also have to be able to hold onto power.

If a site like Wikileaks earns, through its leaks, the ire of all the governments on earth, it will not survive no matter how appealing the ideals it supports. It's supporters will simply be prosecuted, persecuted, jailed, and even executed until it becomes ineffective as an organization. Remaining in power is a balancing act, between implementing something as close to your ideals as practically possible, while making sure you have friends (powerful ones) which will help you if you get in trouble. Idealists tend to forget this, and demand strict adherence to their ideals, even if the resulting organization is not self-sustainable, or even self-destructive.

In terms of improving the lives of the peoples of the world, Wikileaks' lists of leaks is skewed against the democratic nations whose ideals are its very lifeblood, while woefully thin against the totalitarian states which are the true bane of modern society. To make an analogy, Wikileaks is busy scolding the dog for sometimes chasing the chickens, while the fox is running loose in the henhouse. They're doing it wrong. You want the dog to help you chase the fox out first.

By vortmax2 on 2/1/2011 10:36:16 AM , Rating: 2
This post pretty much sums it all up. Nice job...

By Ammohunt on 2/1/2011 4:00:24 PM , Rating: 2
Exactly it’s the equivalent of kids lashing out at their parents…anonymous! Clean your damn room!

By snyper256 on 2/2/2011 2:32:59 PM , Rating: 3
You think that people should be subservient to their government?

By Ammohunt on 2/7/2011 2:37:04 PM , Rating: 2
Its called Civilization perhaps you have heard of the concept?

By BeastieBoy on 2/1/2011 11:02:41 AM , Rating: 2
if a convicted burglars house got robbed does he not deserve justice?

No. Just sit back and marvel as the universe restores balance.

"Spreading the rumors, it's very easy because the people who write about Apple want that story, and you can claim its credible because you spoke to someone at Apple." -- Investment guru Jim Cramer

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