117 attacks (and counting)—Black Lives Matter’s fight to stay online

Enlarge (credit: Sean Rayford/Getty Images / Aurich)
“Through our e-mails and our social media accounts we get death threats all the time,” said Janisha Gabriel. “For anyone who’s involved in this type of work, you know that you take certain…

Enlarge (credit: Sean Rayford/Getty Images / Aurich)

“Through our e-mails and our social media accounts we get death threats all the time,” said Janisha Gabriel. “For anyone who’s involved in this type of work, you know that you take certain risks.”

These aren’t the words of a politician or a prison guard but of a Web designer. Gabriel owns Haki Creatives, a design firm that specialises in building websites for social activist groups like Black Lives Matter (BLM)–and for that work strangers want to kill her.

When these people aren’t hurling threats at the site’s designer, they’re hurling attacks at the BLM site itself–on 117 separate occasions in the past six months, to be precise. They’re renting servers and wielding botnets, putting attack calls out on social media, and trialling different attack methods to see what sticks. In fact, it’s not even clear whether ‘they’ are the people publicly claiming to perform the attacks.

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Come for lulz, stay for hacktivism: a new book on Anonymous, reviewed

Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy describes Anonymous in painstaking detail.

Circa 2010 and 2011, a year or so before I joined the staff of Ars Technica, I had followed the online antics of Anonymous from a distance. I knew the rough outline of Anonymous, its initial motives (“for the lulz”) and its consequences, such as the legendary (and hilarious) hack of security firm HBGary Federal, as reported in these hallowed pages.

But what I didn’t fully grasp until now was the full, complex and rich play-by-play story provided by somebody who knows the group as well as any bona fide Anon: Biella Coleman, an anthropology professor at McGill University. Her new book, Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy deftly chronicles the rise of Anonymous, and the fall of many of its most prominent members.

The tome details her time embedding with Anonymous in its IRC lairs, and even meets a few of them in person, including the recently released government informant Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known by his online handle, Sabu. (Who knew he was gluten-free?)

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FBI’s most wanted cybercriminal used his cat’s name as a password

From the department of face-palming opsec blunders.

When he was arrested at his Chicago home in 2012 for hacking the website of security think tank Stratfor, the dreadlocked Jeremy Hammond was the FBI's most wanted cybercriminal. Authorities tracked him down with the help of top LulzSec member Hector Xavier Monsegur. But it has never been known how they managed to search his encrypted computer, the lid of which the hacker was able to close as agents armed with assault rifles were raiding his home.

An Associated Press profile of the 29-year-old's life behind bars provides a possible answer. Hammond's password was "Chewy 123."

Hashing algorithms protecting encryption keys are by design extremely slow, making cracking attacks harder to carry out. The more guesses the attacker tries the exponentially longer it will take. As demonstrated in previous Ars articles such as Why passwords have never been weaker—and crackers have never been stronger and Anatomy of a hack: How crackers ransack passwords like “qeadzcwrsfxv1331”, "Chewy 123" would be among the earlier candidates any experienced cracker would try. And assuming agents performed any research on their then suspect, "Chewy 123" would almost certainly have been near the top of the list. "Chewy," it turns out, was the name of Hammond's cat.

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Anonymous Targets Singapore For Proposed Internet Licensing Rules

So the latest news in South East Asia is that someone claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous is waging a digital war against Singapore due to their proposed Internet licensing rules, which are akin to backdoor censorship. You can see the Youtube vide…

So the latest news in South East Asia is that someone claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous is waging a digital war against Singapore due to their proposed Internet licensing rules, which are akin to backdoor censorship. You can see the Youtube video here: The Anonymous Legion Threatens Singapore Government They already started by attacking...

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