Friday, December 10, 2010

The Tactics of Cyberwarfare

A common tactic used to discredit political enemies (I've written about this before in Cassandra) is to mix the rebel up in a sex scandal. Sometimes scandal does exist factually and evidentially, as in the cases of David Vitter and Mark Foley. But other times the charges are murky.

The New York Times has an article on its front page (that's right, I'm an oldster, I subscribe to the print edition of the Times) which indicates that's what seems to have happened to Julian Assange, who was a former cyber hacker who founded an organization known as Wikileaks. Wikileaks has been brashly releasing evidence of such activities as pilots casually discussing the killing of civilians from a safe distance of 30,000 feet.

Some accuse young people of all techno, no causes. But in Assange's case, they seemed to have found a cause to rally around, his jailing. They are using their formidable weapons, their knowledge of how computers and the internet really work and intermingle, to disrupt some powerful corporate interests. This is also not a new activity. It's done by governments all over the world. So what exactly are they doing? In some cases they are bombarding the websites with coordinated messages simultaneously as to overwhelm the IP, which leads to a denial of service. No one can then access that website.

Some of these attacks, which appear to have no connection with Assange, are from a group that calls itself "Anonymous". To all you folks out there who get confused by a concept known as "irony", when a group pointedly calls itself "Anonymous", operates on the Internet which cloaks itself in anonymity but they themselves are operating in plain sight, that's irony. These guys are out on a limb ostensibly fighting for a cause they fervently believe in.

More later about the limits of privacy.

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