Feeds

Greek police cuff Anonymous spokesman suspect

First 'cyberwar' dismissed as tech hit-and-run vandalism

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Greek police have reportedly arrested a web designer whose name appeared in a press release issued by online hacktivists Anonymous last week.

The PDF-format press release outlined Anonymous' loose-knit structure and immediate objectives of launching online attacks against organisations that have severed commercial ties with Wikileaks. The properties of the document contained the name of the author, Alex Tapanaris, who has now become a suspect in the case.

Dutch police have previously arrested two other suspected members of Anonymous, including a 16-year-old who allegedly used the group's LOIC packet-flooding tool to attack Mastercard.

By default, the LOIC tool does not disguise the origins of IP packets and the same less-than-stellar approach to anonymity would seem to go for statements issued on behalf of Anonymous.

Anonymous is a loosely-knit group whose membership and objectives shift over time. Several spokespeople have come forward to speak for the collective since it came to mainstream media attention with its support for Wikileaks and attacks against Mastercard, PayPal et al over the last week or so. These attacks probably are best understood as an offshoot of the much earlier Operation:Payback campaign against entertainment industry websites that started back in September.

Security blogger Gary Warner has compiled an informative analysis on the origins and psychological motives of Anonymous here.

Thus far, distributed denial service attacks against targeted websites have been the main stock-in-trade of Anonymous. The tactic involves peppering websites with junk requests to such an extent that systems are unable to service genuine visitors, causing sites to become unavailable. Meanwhile patriot hackers opposed to Anonymous have launched counter-attacks on websites used by Anonymous.

All this has sparked excited talk of "cyberwar", but the reality is that attacks from either side are neither particularly fierce nor sophisticated, according to an analysis by DDoS mitigation firm Arbor Networks.

“Despite the thousands of tweets, press articles and endless hype, most of the attacks over the last week were both relatively small and unsophisticated," said Arbor Networks’ chief scientist Craig Labovitz. "In short, other than the intense media scrutiny, the attacks were unremarkable."

"So ultimately, I’d suggest the last week of DDoS attacks surrounding Wikileaks supporters and opponents falls far short of a “cyberwar”. While it makes a far less sexy headline, cyber-vandalism may be a more apt description." ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.