Anonymous launches largest attack yet before SOPA victory
This Thursday, hackers working under the collective nom de guerre “Anonymous” launched one of the largest distributed denial of service attacks in history. Members of Anonymous have described the entity as “nothing but an idea, an internet meme, which can be appropriated by anyone, at any time.”
The point of such a group is to allow for the dynamic expression of a communal will. It has no leader, nor is there any process by which decisions are made. Its strength lies in the speed with which it can therefore react to stimulus, moving in response to the general emotional climate of its members.
It took just 15 minutes for Anonymous to retaliate after Megaupload, an extremely popular file-sharing website, was shut down by the US government.
The site, which had 50 million daily hits, was charged with costing copyright holders over 500 million dollars in lost revenue. Four people associated with the site were arrested in New Zealand, while three others were listed in the indictment.
The action came the day after thousands of websites voluntarily shut themselves down in protest of controversial anti-piracy bills SOPA and PIPA. The protest effectively shifted opposition to the bills from 31 members of congress on the January 18 to 122 the day after, according to Pro Publica. Sony and Nintendo also silently dropped their support for the legislation, both coincidentally having received threats from Anonymous in the preceding weeks.
- Google joins protests against online piracy bills
- Anonymous hacks Justice Department to hit back against Megaupload shut-down
Within the hour, Twitter hashtags #opmegaupload and #anonymous were trending at hundreds of tweets per minute, as people caught on to the events taking place; Over 5,635 Anonymous users are said to have taken part in attacks targeting US government and media websites, among them that of the FBI and Universal Music Group.
In the midst of it all, allegations of Twitter censoring the hashtag sprung up, with many people declaring that the #opMegaupload hashtag was being censored manually. There is seemingly no proof, but they echo similar claims made in 2010 during the uproar surrounding the killings on the Mavi Marmara.
The attack acted as a finishing blow against SOPA, with its chief sponsor, rep. Lamar Smith withdrawing it from Congress on Friday. The bill's Senate counterpart, PIPA, still remaining in place.
Megaupload itself was apparently restored, but no official statement has been made regarding it's return. Addresses distributed across Twitter during the campaign remain dubious, possibly being used as a tool to recruit visiting computers into unknowingly participating in the attacks.
In looking at the results of the day, it seems that Anonymous has achieved victory in some form or another. It has become obvious now that they are, at the very least, a force to be reckoned with.
What will come of the conflict? The likelihood of collateral effects is high -- it's now the US government's move.