Anonymous has long been “infiltrated” by the Department of Homeland Security, whose job it is to instigate irrational, retaliatory actions within the Anonymous collective; however, the cyberwar took a giant leap forward Friday during #OPMegaUpload when Anonymous attacked the Department of Justice website, turning on what many believe to be its own leadership. Also amid the attacks are Universal Music, who once encouraged the very same file sharing tactics they now wish to charge people with using.
The root of Friday night’s story is the person(s) in control of the LOIC botnet effectively betrayed all politically active anons involved in deliberations and general IRC channels, handing their identities directly over to the federal government. In a long campaign against online anonymity, attacking the Department of Justice website “as a means of protest” is a strategic political move (on behalf of the United States Government) which appears on the surface to protest SOPA while in fact falling in line with larger plan to constrict freedom of the Internet on the whole.
When Rolling Stone magazine questioned Julian Assange about Anonymous, possibly his largest group of supporters, he said, “We were involved with Anonymous from 2008. They were providing us with material related to our investigations into abuses by the Church of Scientology. It was a young pranksterish Internet culture, not something at all to be taken seriously.”
How a conspiracy theory became reality
Among anons, the rationale is as follows: (1) a major part of the collective implicates you in a LOIC attack on the DoJ website using malicious software inadvertently downloaded by a relatively large group of anons who were, unfortunately, tricked into visiting an unsafe web address address, automatically linking them into the botnet. (2) The botnet strikes, leaving your IP address on the long list of attackers involved, which, (3) signals your involvement with anonymous collectives to the authorities who simply go down the list subpoenaing the corresponding ISPs for later prosecution “at-will.”
In almost all previous cases – the LOIC attacks on PayPal and Mastercard, for example – your identity was handed over for prosecution to authorities if you were in the top 1,000 participants of the DDoS attack on their website, since government resources are not unlimited. But in this case, the identities of anons were handed directly to the government, logged by government machines for safekeeping and a few thousand anons’ names just got added to an already long list of domestic surveillance subjects. Worse yet, these are innocent bystanders who did not volunteer to participate in a DDoS attack, but were implemented anyway.
You hear that? Shh. They’re listening in now. On you, this time.
Julian Assange is waiting for the freedom to operate which may never come back in his lifetime, because “In relation to the United States, we’ll have to wait for the revolution.” Inside Anonymous, an all-too familiar feeling is sinking in as hundreds, if not thousands, of people sit at home waiting to be arrested. DDoS attacks, while somewhat useful for sending a message, are becoming widely recognized as the blunted tool of their own eventual demise.
Advice from Assange
“I have a lot of sympathy for journalists who are trying to protect their sources. [ Remaining anonymous is ] very hard now. Unless you’re an electronic-surveillance expert or you have frequent contact with one, you must stay off the Net and mobile phones. You really have to just use the old techniques, paper and whispering in people’s ears. Leave your mobile phones behind. Don’t turn them off, but tell your source to leave electronic devices in their offices. We are now in a situation where countries are recording billions of hours of conversations, and proudly proclaiming that you don’t have to select which telephone call you’re intercepting, because you intercept every telephone call.”