By Elinor Mills
May 1, 2008
A distributed denial-of-service attack on Radio Free Europe/Radio
Liberty this week is the latest attack in a resurgence of hacktivism
(hacking + activism) in the Internet underground, a security researcher
The attack knocked out or interrupted eight RFL/RL sites, starting with
Belarus and including Kosovo, Russia, and Azerbaijan, according to the
news agency's Web site.
At one point the Web sites were getting up to 50,000 fake hits per
second from other machines. The attack started on April 26, the 22nd
anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear accident and RFE/RL was going to be
covering demonstrators protesting over lack of compensation for victims
and the government's plan to build a new nuclear power station.
Several weeks ago CNN's site was a target of hackers believed to be
based in China, sites in France have been targeted, and a year ago
Estonian sites were attacked, notes Paul Ferguson, an advanced threat
researcher at Trend Micro who wrote about the trend this week.
"These things are generally grass-roots driven, either regional,
cultural or national," and unlike most cybercrime attacks, they are not
motivated by financial gain, he told CNET News.com.
Because the attacks are designed to limit the flow of information, they
have more of a societal impact than other cyberattacks, Ferguson says.
"I anticipate we'll see more of these over the summer, driven by
geo-political issues" like Tibetan protests during the Olympics being
hosted in China, he predicts.
Hactivism, or hacking for political purposes, isn't new; it dates back
at least to 1989. There was a rash of events around the turn of the
century, including some organized by artists and environmental activists
newly empowered with Internet tools.
Attend Black Hat USA, August 2-7 in Las Vegas,
the world's premier technical event for ICT security experts.
Featuring 40 hands-on training courses and 80 Briefings
presentations with lots of new content and new tools.
Network with 4,000 delegates from 50 nations.
Visit product displays by 30 top sponsors in
a relaxed setting. http://www.blackhat.com