January 24, 2012
Anonymous To Attempt Facebook Shutdown On Saturday
A video posted to YouTube on Monday suggests that the hacking collective known as Anonymous is recruiting computer users to assist with an attempt to shut down Facebook on Saturday, January 28.
"While it is true that Facebook has at least 60,000 servers, it is still possible to bring it down," an unidentified voice says in the video, according to CNET's Chris Matyszczyk.
"An online war has begun between Anonymous, the people, and the government of the United States," the narrator said -- presumably making reference to the recently shelved SOPA and PIPA bills governing intellectual property on the Internet, as well as the shutting down of the file-sharing website Megaupload.com and the arrests of four individuals who worked on it.
In order to launch this attack against the popular social network, Meghan Kelly of VentureBeat says that Anonymous is calling on those who watch the video to download a tool known at the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC). The LOIC "shuts websites down by launching information packets at the servers thousands of times," effectively overloading them and preventing them from functioning properly.
The LOIC is the same tool that Anonymous used to launch a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) on January 19, targeting the websites of the FBI, the Department of Justice, Universal Music, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), among others, according to reports by Gregg Keizer of Computerworld and Elinor Mills of CNET last week.
Everyone using the tool must do so at the exact same time in order for the DDoS attacks to be effective, Kelly says, and in the video Anonymous sets the time at 12 a.m. on Saturday (time zone is not given, but the VentureBeat reporter assumes it is UTC).
She warns to beware of links in the Twitter handles of Anonymous members around that time, as the organization claims to have duped unsuspecting Internet users into helping launch the attacks last Thursday's attacks on the FBI and Justice Department websites without their knowledge or permission.
This is not the first time that Anonymous has claimed to be targeting Facebook. On November 5, 2011 -- on the anniversary of the arrest of Guy Fawkes, a member of the Gunpowder Plot whose signature visage has been adopted by the hacking group -- members had promised to take down the social network. However, they later claimed that the movement was not supported by most of the group, hence the reason it was unsuccessful.
"What isn't entirely clear from the video is why Facebook has been singled out," Matyszczyk said. "Is it the company's relatively tardy opposition to SOPA? The video seems to simply align Facebook with the government, without offering further explanation."
He reported that he had contacted Facebook for comment on the video, but as of 5:30 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, they had yet to respond.
On the Net:
- Department of Justice
- Universal Music
- Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
- Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)