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22 December 2010
DDoS Report: Hackers Bad Behavior Threatens World Order
There is something intolerably appealing about bad behavior.  There
is a thrill when you watch, with admiration, a political campaign that
is invisible, undetectable and highly effective against corporations or
So many of us sat back in their chairs amazed when hackers
successfully mounted a highly organized and highly successful campaign
against companies that had withdrawn their services from WikiLeaks,
including Mastercard, PayPal and Visa.  
It’s the skill, it’s the devising of a strategy to cause havoc that leave many of, mouth open, lets face it, in awe.  
In a new report released this week by Harvard University “Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Against
Independent Media and Human Rights Sites”
it seems hacker attacks are far more common that most of us would believe, 1300 attack each day! 
Yet there seems to be a great divide between those who instigate
attacks. On the one hand there are those Cyber Guerilla groups
organizing campaigns of civil disobedience while on the other, many
believe government or company sponsored sabotage against human rights or
political opposition groups are also common.
The most common attacks are Disrupted Denial of Service (DDoS)
where a company’s website is bombarded.    One example used in the
report was of this year a group 4chan hackers launched a retaliation
attack on Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) as payback for
the company organizing an cyber attack on a file-sharing company “The
Pirate Bay”.
It showed the power of a small group of highly skilled players from
4chan who were able to periodically bring the MPAA site down, after a
series of coordinated attacks. 
According to the report DDoS attacks are organized by hackers often
using Botnets where the normal users, me included probably, find their
computers infiltrated.  Unaware as we were when we opened that email,
whoops, I was promised a photo of Anna Kournikova, that a virus was
being downloaded onto our computers allowing someone else access.
After the virus settles we are playing a huge role by our computers
being used to send out emails or other tasks that will overload a
particular website’s server.  Down goes the server, down goes the
business.  For some companies that can mean being out of business for
anything from an hour to six weeks according to the report.
The strategy first came into the public light around 1996 when ‘the
bible’ was produced by Practical Unix and Internet Security which
offered a chapter on protecting against DDoS.
Since then political groups have used the skills to raise an issue against a government.  How priceless!
Last year amidst the turmoil of the aftermath of the Iranian
election opposition forces mounted a huge campaign against President
Mahmoud Ahmadinejab bringing down his homepage and other government
websites over a 24 hour period. 
The campaign did not stop there with twitter’s home page displaying
the message “This site has been hacked by the Iranian Cyber Army”.  An
unbelievable feat for a small band of people to be able to infiltrate
such a major site! 
As with anything, a successful strategy will be appropriated.  Its
believed governments have done exactly the same to quieten opposition. 
In the Harvard University report Human Rights and political groups
stated that their websites too had been attacked, and presumed that this
was a government sponsored operation.
At the same time as the political opposition “the Green Movement”
gained momentum against the Iranian government they found their website,, was attacked where their domain name was changed with
users directed to a different IP address.  The website now displayed
contact details that implied involvement in the site by an American,
giving the political opposition a western identity.
It’s an extraordinary world which few understand, but after the
efforts of hackers to bring down Mastercard and Visa we are beginning to
understand the potential power of attacks.
For a copy of the Harvard University report:


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