Hacktivist Group Attacks Nation States

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The ongoing cyberwar over Wikileaks has taken a new turn with individual countries now being attacked

The hacktivist group known as Anonymous is now thought to be targeting sovereign nations, after it launched attacks against the government websites of Zimbabwe and Tunisia.

Anonymous has achieved notoriety in the past few months following the arrest and subsequent bail of WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, who faces a court appearance in the UK later this month for leaking sensitive US diplomatic cables.

The group has previously targeted companies such as Mastercard and PayPal with distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS), after they withdrew their support for the Wikileaks website.

Nations Targeted

Indeed, the attacks are thought to be so serious that Scotland Yard has confirmed it has been investigating the Internet vigilante group for some time.

Meanwhile, in the United States, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) has created a taskforce, which has been lumbered with the unfortunate moniker of WikiLeaks Task Force (or WTF for short).

And in a new turn of events the hacking group is switching away from companies, and now seems to be  targeting countries that are hostile to Wikileaks.

According to The Guardian newspaper, a number of Arab nations such as Saudi Arabia and Morocco have been actively seeking to shut down Wikileaks. The Anonymous group has already attacked Zimbabwe, and now countries such as Tunsia are reportedly trying to block access to the leaked Wikileaks cables.

This brought a swift response from Anonymous.

According to Graham Cluely, security expert at Sophos, members of the Anonymous group gathered on an Internet Relay Chat (IRC) forum yesterday, and singled out various official Tunisian websites for attack.

Cluely said that websites that appear to have been brought down by the DDoS attack include that of Tunisian president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and the government’s official website.

Anonymous Warning

Sophos quoted a statement posted on Anonymous-related websites to explain the reason for the Tunisian attack.

“The Tunisian government wants to control the present with falsehoods and misinformation in order to impose the future by keeping the truth hidden from its citizens. We will not remain silent while this happens. Anonymous has heard the claim for freedom of the Tunisian people. Anonymous is willing to help the Tunisian people in this fight against oppression. It will be done. It will be done,” said the group.

“This is a warning to the Tunisian government: attacks at the freedom of speech and information of its citizens will not be tolerated. Any organisation involved in censorship will be targeted and will not be released until the Tunisian government hears the claim for freedom to its people.”

Other Attacks

Last month the British national security advisor Sir Peter Ricketts, warned that WikiLeaks supporters may attack government sites, such as The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) and HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC).

And Citrix CTO Simon Crosby also recently warned that the year 2010 heralded the start of national Cyber Wars, with the Stuxnet attack on Iran, the alleged Chinese government attack on Google, and of course WikiLeaks.

Of course it should be noted that Anonymous has been active for a while now.

In November the group took down the website of the International Federation of Phonographic Industry (IFPI) as revenge for the legal action against The Pirate Bay.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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