For the past few days the big story has been the protest of SOPA and PIPA, the two potentially disastrous and dangerous pieces of legislation that would give major corporations and organizations the right to censor the internet in the name of protection against piracy. Yesterday, websites like Wikipedia.org and Reddit.com shut their doors to the public, demonstrating what it would be like if either SOPA or PIPA were passed, despite admonishment from the MPAA. In a move that can only be described as retaliation, earlier this morning the US government was able to shut down MegaUpload.com a file sharing website that some have chosen to use to download and upload illegal material (despite the fact that the site itself has no control over the content people share). Now Anonymous, the nameless, faceless hacker organization that is typically identified with Guy Fawkes masks, has struck back.
Since this morning’s news, Anonymous has managed to shut down various powerful websites in the government such as Justice.gov along with others like MPAA.org, Universal Music Group, and the RIAA. The move is being called the biggest attack in the organization’s history. Anonymous is likely using what is known as a Distributed Denial-of-Service Attack (DDoS), which basically means that they have flooded the computer network that operates these various sites and completely shut down their capabilities.
The AnonOps Twitter account claimed responsibility for the attacks, which are being promoted with the #OpMegaUpload hashtag. Anonymous is using their own DDoS tool called Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC). When activated, LOIC rapidly reloads a target website, and if enough users point LOIC at a site at once, it can crash from the traffic. The application is freely being distributed through Twitter and various IRC channels. Judging from a Twitter search, the link is being shared at a rate of about 4 times a minute, mostly by Spanish-speaking users, for some reason. Russian news service RT claims this is the largest coordinated attack in Anonymous’ history—over 5,600 DDoS zealots blasting at once. The latest confirmed targeted shut down by Anonymous attack is La résistance est international—French copyright authority HADOPI.