Anonymous Petitioning White House To Make DDoS Legal

Tom Brewster is TechWeek Europe's Security Correspondent. He has also been named BT Information Security Journalist of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

Hacktivist groups wants its attacks to be legal

Anonymous is hoping to convince the US government to consider making distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks a legal form of protest.

The hacktivist group has used DDoS as its chief form of protest over the past few years, taking down a host of prominent websites, including those belonging to tech titan PayPal and UK home secretary Theresa May, amongst many others.

Many Anonymous members believe DDoS should not be illegal where it is being used as a form of protest.

Anonymous going legit?

A petition on the White House website has managed to gain almost 2,000 signatures, but it will need another 23,000 if it is to reach the goal of 25,000 and have the US government respond.  The creator of the group was one Dylan K.

“With the advance in Internet techonology [sic], comes new grounds for protesting. Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), is not any form of hacking in any way,” the Anonymous petition page read.

“It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any ‘occupy’ protest.

“Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time.

“As part of this petition, those who have been jailed for DDoS should be immediatly [sic] released and have anything regarding a DDoS, that is on their “records”, cleared.”

Anonymous isn’t quite telling the full picture here, however.

DDoS attacks are used for criminal activity, however. A common use of DDoS is extortion. An attacker threatens a business that needs to stay online to earn money, such as an Internet casino, saying they will take down the website unless they pay up. It will often cost less to pay the attacker than take the hit.

What do you know about online security? Try our quiz and find out!