Monday, December 13, 2010

Anonymous, Ion Cannons, and Hacktivism

This has been an interesting and enlightening week. With just vocabulary alone, I've learned a few things. Hacktivism? LOIC? DDoS? Personally I feel like I've been scrambling to get a handle on the background information so that I could make some sense of the news about Anonymous, WikiLeaks, and the internet protests of the past week. This post is about some of the things I've learned and some of the sources I've used to learn them.


I've heard of them before and long had the impression that Anonymous was a merry mob of pranksters, largely motivated by their own amusement and not ethical concerns. Which is usually true, but the controversy around WikiLeaks stirred up that particular hornet's nest as few other things ever had. Why? It seems to me that Anonymous is a little bit like the Internet's anti-censorship immune system.


We know what activism is. If we watch a news documentary about the 60s, we get to see the cliches of activism in countless news clips. Hacktivism is a later generation's version of activism, the 21st Century version, I suppose. Instead of staging a sit-in to effectively shut down a business that is doing something ethically wrong, hacktivists stage their protests on the Internet. Using tools like the LOIC, these modern protesters attempt to prevent any customers from getting through the virtual door into an Internet store. And that is what Anonymous did to MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal as a result of those companies preventing donations to WikiLeaks,0,6077681.story

Low Orbit Ion Cannon.

LOIC is the program used by hacktivists to work in concert to stage their sit-in like protest. What it does is flood a target computer with data and requests for data. If enough activists are involved this can effectively cut off a target computer from being able to communicate with anyone else. This is called a distributed denial of service attack, or DDoS. But it soon became known that LOIC was leaking information about those who used it.

No comments: