Following a massive attack waged Thursday on several government and entertainment industry websites, hacktivists with Anonymous continued their assault over the weekend, momentarily taking CBS.com offline.
The next target very well might be Facebook.
The shut-down of the file sharing site Megaupload last week prompted thousands of users to participate in an Anonymous-led attack on opponents of the service, which left the websites for the FBI, Department of Justice, Motion Picture Association of America and Universal Music Group, among others, momentarily crippled.
The move, believed to be the largest Anonymous-led online initiative in the group’s history, was continued during the weekend when operatives participating managed to divert all traffic away from CBS.com. For around 20 minutes, the television network’s main site was unavailable on the Web to surfers across the world. Additionally, a second assault on Universal Music Group, or UMG, was waged and once again rendered the site unavailable. Universal is the largest record label in America and already revealed itself as an opponent to Megaupload before last week’s raid.
Sunday’s take-down of CBS.com and UMG was also accompanied by similar initiatives on foreign websites linked to anti-copyright legislation, including Polish and French government sites. According to some alleged Anonymous members, however, the bombardment doesn’t stop just there. In a new video uploaded to YouTube on Monday, a person claiming to work under the guise of Anonymous announces plans to take on the social networking giant Facebook in the coming days.
“An online war has begun between Anonymous, the people, and the government of the United States,” recites a digitized voice in the video clip. “While SOPA and PIPA may be postponed from Congress, this does not guarantee that our Internet rights will be upheld.” To insure that online freedoms aren’t further crushed, says the Anonymous operative, an assault should be launched on Facebook to make it clear to the US government just how strong the opponents of Internet laws such as SOPA and PIPA are.
“We've already crashed CBS, Warner Brothers and FBI sites; Facebook is our next aim. This will be enough to show them indeed that we are not playing,” continues the video.
The US Copyright office, the Recording Industry Association of America, BMG and other sites were targeted in last week’s attacks, which used a Distributed Denial-of-Service, or DDoS assault, to render the sites unavailable. Participants allege that they also waged an attempt at taking down the websites for both the Department of Defense and the White House, but were unsuccessful at taking them offline.
According to the latest clip, another DDoS attack will be launched on January 28 against Facebook in the same manner that the previous week’s assaults were conducted against the entertainment industry and government sites. The narrator of the clip and an accompanying text description provide detailed information on how to go about conducting the attack, which is done using a simple piece of software called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, or LOIC.
Nearly 6,000 users broke the servers of the FBI and others last week using the LOIC program in an attempt that was mostly under the radar until news outlets eventually broke the story. With an attack against Facebook being plotted days in advance, a DDoS attack, while difficult to conduct to a degree worthy of taking down Mark Zuckerberg’s tremendous amount of servers, could very well happen.
“While it is true that Facebook has at least 60,000 servers, it is still possible to bring it down,” announces the voice in the video.
Others aligned to the group have shunned the would-be ambush, however, and insist that it does not represent the mission of the group as a whole. With no formal leader or membership though, it is easy for conflicting ideas and agendas to easily go viral on the Web without any authorization from those involved in past missions.
“Lulz at people saying we would take down Twitter, FaceBook and YouTube,” reads a tweet in response from the YourAnonNews account. “Why would Anon take down how we send our messages?”
Regardless of the legitimacy of the claim made in the latest YouTube clip, it is not the first attack on Facebook perpetrated by an alleged member of Anonymous. A previous attack was scheduled for November 5, 2011, but never materialized. In that case, a similar YouTube video was released ahead of time and informed viewers that “Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world.”
The November 5 attack was expected to accompany similar assaults, including a takedown of FoxNews.com, that while reported, fell through.
“When you're planning to hack someone, don't tell them in advance. More importantly, don't tell them exactly when you're planning to rock their universe,” Matt Peckham, a tech writer for TIME, said before the last planned take-down.
In the new video, however, the alleged Anonymous operative uses the YouTube platform not just as a means of preparing for the assault, but as a recruitment tool
“Would you like to become part of the greatest Internet protest and first official cyber war?” asks the video’s narrator.