August 10, 2011

Fresh Target For Anonymous – Facebook

A Twitter message claiming to be from the shadowy Web hacker group Anonymous says the group is planning to destroy Facebook on November 5th, charging that Facebook has been providing information to governments as well as describing it as "the opposite of the Antisec cause."

"Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world," says the hacktivists in an associated YouTube video.

"Your medium of communication you all so dearly adore will be destroyed," the speaker on the video says, using a voice modulator to mask his (or her) voice. The speaker continues to invite viewers to "join the cause and kill Facebook for the sake of your own privacy."

The video makes the unproven claim that Facebook has been selling user information to government agencies and giving it to security firms so they can spy on people.

"Some of these so-called WhiteHat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria," it claims.

Despite the claims, Facebook has repeatedly said it does not sell information and does not share user information with any third parties that the user hasn't agreed to.

"We do not share your personal information with people or services you don't want," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg told the Washington Post last year. "We do not give advertisers access to your personal information. We do not and never will sell any of your information to anyone."

The hacker group is also unhappy about Facebook's privacy policies, which have been under scrutiny by privacy groups for years.

"Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your privacy settings, and deleting your account is impossible," the speaker says. "Even if you delete your account, all your information stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time."

"Changing the privacy settings to make your Facebook account more "private" is also a delusion. Facebook knows more about you than your family," the speaker on the video claims.

The group has not made it known exactly how it plans to take down Facebook, but experts believe a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack is the most-likely scenario.

While bringing down the social network would not seem enormously popular with Facebook's users, it has also sparked some unpopularity among the hacker group's own members.

"FYI - #OpFacebook is being organized by some Anons. This does not necessarily mean that all of #Anonymous agrees with it," says a Twitter feed from the user Anonops, who is associated with Anonymous.

November 5, the day of the planned attack, is significant in the UK. The date is Guy Fawkes Day, a commemoration of the Gunpowder Plot in which Fawkes and others placed explosives under the British House of Lords in 1605. The date, also known as "Bonfire Night," is well remembered, even though the conspirators failed in their attempt.

It remains uncertain if Anonymous can even muster enough help to take down such a huge site. In December, the group tried and failed to take down online retail giant Amazon. They attacked Amazon, because the company booted WikiLeaks from its web-hosting service.

Although, the hacker group has effectively disrupted services in a number of other websites in the past few years. Those include PayPal, Master Card, Visa and the Church of Scientology.

Anonymous on Monday also claimed credit for hacking the site of the Syrian Defense Ministry, replacing its content with an anti-government message and the Anonymous logo. The attack most likely stemmed from Syrian protestors who have demanded reforms, including true democratic elections and an end to President Bashar al-Assad's regime.


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