How can you tell when you are on the receiving end of Anonymous campaign? It’s easy. DDOS attacks, ads for your business being listed in the Craigslist erotic services section, and emails to say that you have an STD. These juvenile, yet effective tactics are often the calling cards of the hacktivist group Anonymous and it seems that their target this time is Sony.
US blog Tom’s Guide reported that “Anonymous is said to have this morning launched a series of distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) aimed at Sony PlayStation sites. According to the Register, several Sony websites, including the PlayStation store and PlayStation.com were inaccessible for a period during the attacks.”
Anonymous has a particular way with words, as it has demonstrated in its press release: “Congratulations! You are now receiving the attention of Anonymous. Your recent legal actions against fellow internet citizens, GeoHot and Graf_Chokolo have been deemed an unforgivable offense against free speech and internet freedom, primary sources of free lulz (and you know how we feel about lulz.)”
Wikipedia explains the case of the hacker known as GeoHot. “In the end of 2009, Hotz announced his efforts to hack the Sony PlayStation 3, a console widely regarded as being the only fully locked and secure system of the seventh generation era. Hotz opened a blog to document his progress, and five weeks later, on January 22, 2010, he announced that he had successfully hacked the machine by enabling himself read and write access to the machine’s system memory and having hypervisor level access to the machine’s processor. Hotz also detailed the many things his work could allow, such as homebrew and PlayStation 2 emulation (a feature removed by Sony in newer revisions of the console to tackle production costs). On January 26, 2010, Hotz released the exploit to the public.
Sony hit him with a lawsuit and demanded social media sites, including YouTube to hand over IP addresses of people who visited Geohot’s social pages/videos. Paypal has granted access to Sony for them to view Geohot’s PayPal account. The judge of the case has given permission to Sony to view the IP addresses of everyone who visited geohot.com. Sony are also after another group of hackers for the same case.”
According to ars technica, the attacks on Sony are so far rather successful. But some anon members are worried. “In Anonymous chat rooms, participants bash Sony but worry about how their actions will be perceived. ‘Guys, you need to talk to the gamers and explain to them that this does not affect their gameplay,’ wrote one.”
The group responsible for the action is calling itself OpSony, but news is emerging of a splinter group called SonyRecon who want to take the action to the next level. Tom’s Guide reports how “Discussions in the OpSony IRC channel detail how the group plans to gather information about people involved in the Sony lawsuit and target these individuals using phony Craigslist ‘erotic services’ ads, STD scares and more.”
Anonymous is a collective of nameless internet users. It is not an organisation, it is not a group with official members. It is a useful label for a coalition with a shared set of goals and ideals with regards to a free internet. They communicate through various websites (notably 4chan.org), and IRC to loosely direct whatever operation they hope to achieve.
Sometimes their goals are trivial or comedic and sometimes they are politically or at least seriously motivated. Due to the nature of Anonymous, it is difficult to discern when one can attribute a raid or attack to the group as a whole or merely to disgruntled members.