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Aussie anti-censor attacks strafe gov websites

Operation Titstorm DDoS more of a bee sting

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The Anonymous denial of service campaign against Australian government websites on Wednesday in protest against mandatory net filtering plans was a relatively modest affair, but still managed to disrupt the access to targeted websites.

Arbor Networks, which markets security technology that helps service providers to mitigate DDoS attacks, reports that the peak size of the attack against Australian government websites was a relatively low 16.84 Mbps. By comparison, one in five service providers reported botnet-fueled attacks that in the 1-4 Gps range last year, with the worst attack hitting 49 Gbps, according to an annual review by Arbor.

Operation Titstorm, launched on Wednesday, also involves a campaign of spam emails, junk faxes and prank phone calls along the lines of earlier attacks against the Church of Scientology, also spearheaded by the loose-knit Anonymous collective. The DDoS attacks in the Australian attacks appear to be hand-cranked rather than launched through zombie networks of compromised machines.

Even so, the ongoing attacks reportedly blocked access to the Australian's government website, www.australia.gov.au, and www.aph.gov.au, the Australian parliament's homepage, overnight as part of a protest against controversial plans to filter the Internet and block access to site featuring extreme sexual content. As well as material featuring rape, bestiality and child sex abuse, other types of content including small-breasted women (who may appear underage), cartoon porn and female ejaculation are also due to be censored.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's home page was reportedly defaced with pornography while the Australian Communications Department, which is piloting the controversial plans, was packeted with junk traffic. It's unclear how long the cyber-assaults will persist.

At lunchtime European time on Thursday, the Australian parliament's homepage remains unresponsive, though the main government and Comms Ministry websites appear to be running normally. All seems well on Prime Minister Rudd's home page too.

Some Australian groups, such as Stop Internet Censorship, have criticised the attacks are counterproductive while the Australian government has condemned them as "irresponsible".

In related news, Google has resisted calls from Australian Communcations Minister Stephen Conroy to censor a broader range of content. YouTube already prohibits bestiality, rape and child pornography material, but balks at blocking material on euthanasia and safer drug use categorised as restricted content in Australia. Conroy's pitch that Google censors search results in China so why not in Australia was rejected by Google's local reps, the Sydney Morning Herald reports. ®

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