Thursday, July 21, 2011

“Hacktivists” – criminals or fighters for freedom of speech?: Voice of Russia

Hacktivists” – criminals or fighters for freedom of speech?

Jul 20, 2011 20:29 Moscow Time
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16 Web hackers were recently arrested in the US. Some of them are members of a group known as “Anonymous”. All 16 are suspected of hacking into websites of major business companies and of government organizations, like CIS and the Pentagon.

The “Anonymous” group is a part of a certain movement which calls itself “hacktivists”

Common hackers, as a rule, crack websites to obtain some commercial content for free – or just for the fun of hacking something which is not open to everybody. “Hacktivists” pretend to be a political movement. Moreover, they call themselves freedom of speech fighters. Their main targets are government sites which, as they claim, infringe freedom of speech or are corrupt. Among those who have already survived their attacks, are the CIS’s site, the sites of Brazil’s president and the Brazilian government, as well as sites of such big companies as “Sony”, “Visa” and “MasterCard”. 

The last targets of “hacktivists’” attacks were sites owned by “the hero of the day” Rupert Murdoch. Hackers from a certain group “Lulz Security” have placed news that Mr. Murdock has allegedly been found dead in his garden on the site of the newspaper “The Sun”, which is owned by Murdock. On the same day, hackers put out of operation the site of another Murdock-owned newspaper, “The Times”. 

Investigation is now under way to find out whether it was “hacktivists” who sent e-mail letters to “Taliban” leaders, saying that the religious ruler of “Taliban” Mullah Omar is allegedly dead. 

It is not for nothing that the group has chosen the name “Anonymous”. Its members are young people, aged from 16 to 25, who live in diverse parts of the globe and don’t know each other. This totally rules out the possibility that any member of the group would give away any names, no matter how toughly he is interrogated.

Alexander Gostev from the “Kasperskiy’s Laboratory” (Kasperskiy is the creator of a popular anti-virus program) says:

“Hacktivists” are strong not because they are well organized, but because there are many of them. The more people they have, the more they are capable of, even if, separately, each of them has only medium skills as a hacker. If one thousand people attack a site simultaneously, each of them from his own computer, this will be a really strong attack. The peculiarity of this group is that while other hackers try to remain unnoticed, for “hacktivists”, each of their attacks is a public action.”

At present, the world’s governments are trying to seek new measures against hackers. President Obama has suggested that the maximum prison term for hackers must be 20 years, not 10 as it used to be before. Russia and the US have signed an agreement on cooperation in fighting against Web hacking. It is planned to establish an exchange of information between structures which fight against hackers. 

“The governments’ task is not only to catch all the hackers, but to stop the “hacktivists” movement once and for all,” Alexander Gostev says:

“We cannot altogether protect ourselves from hacker attacks. Still, we must protect ourselves to make the damage minimal. We must make sure that even if somebody cracks a site, they would get minimal information. And, if possible, everyone who is found to be engaged in websites cracking must be arrested. This will make other people think twice before hacking a website.”

Some people say that it is in fact the US authorities, who, against their will, gave birth to the movement of “hacktivists”. Some time ago, the US government started to give grants to young people for inventing a program for cracking other governments’ sites.

Well, if it is really so, this is very much like the story of Frankenstein’s monster – and the Al Qaeda one. Now, it is no secret that when Al Qaeda was formed in the late 1980s, it was with much help from the US.

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