Friday, 30 March 2012 10:03

Opertaion Global Blackout Would Have Happened Tomorrow; If It Were Real... Now What Did We Learn?

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Anon-02A while ago we wrote a piece that talked (in simple terms) about how Anonymous could kill the internet through attacking the root DNS servers. The article was written with the intent to give a background on the system in place and how it works. We did not then, nor do we now believe that Anonymous would take down the internet. As with all of the threats to take down twitter, Facebook and other forms of communication it would be exceptionally counterproductive. If Anonymous were to take down the internet and prevent connecting to servers via DNS it would lose many of their followers and supporters for at least the length of the hack.

The date for the supposed hack of the root DNS servers was tomorrow (March 31st) and some sites have resurrected the idea of Operation Global Blackout as a credible exercise by the online activist movement.  The problem here is that the Op was never real and was only used as a form of verbal protest to bring awareness to the items that Anonymous has begun to stand for  (besides the occasional hack just for fun). One of the biggest items that Anonymous and their supporters are demanding (those that never participate but follow and comment) is a free and open Internet. Net Neutrality has always been one of their primary goals. Woven into this is (believe it or not) the demand that the governments and corporations that have our personal information take the steps required to ensure that data is secure.

If you follow the progress of the attacks that have happened you might be surprised to note that many are due to carelessness on the part of the target company. These are things like keeping the root admin account active, using simple passwords on admin level accounts, not updating software and hardware to protect against hacks (there was one company still using internet explorer 6!). Things like this should never happen in an organization that is responsible for protecting their customer’s information.

Now back to the DNS hack on the root servers; why the threat using them as the target? Well we can only guess, but we are thinking that it might be along the lines of showing everyone how fragile the system is. Although the system is capable of maintaining itself without the root servers for a very long time bringing them down can hinder the speed that the traditional internet runs (using domain names). It will not affect using an IP address for connections, it will have limited impact on other forms of traffic and again, as DNS servers cache information it is unlikely to have an impact that people will feel. What the threat does do is educate people to the dangers of letting others control the global DNS system.

Again we come back to why and again the reason it fairly simple at the time of the warning. At the time SOPA and PIPA were shelved, but there was still talk of editing them to make them more palatable by the voting population. These bills would have enabled tools to block sites accused of (not found guilty of, just accused) copyright infringement at the DNS level. SOPA also wanted to make it a crime to connect to a website by IP address to prevent people from access the blocked site entirely. Of course lawmakers are still trying to get some of these restrictions and controls passed in bills like the Cybersecurity Act of 2012 and Secure IT, but neither of these gives the power to the content owners like SOPA and PIPA did.

Tomorrow is the day that Anonymous claimed they would bring down the Internet by killing the root of the DNS system.  The original day of the announcement/warning, February 12th 2012, the news spread around like mad. People read these articles by the thousands and hopefully were given a better understanding of how fragile and unsecure the internet really is. The warning also helped to scare some lawmakers into realizing how unwise putting in a system for blocking sites into the DNS system was and is. Unfortunately it also may have given fuel to the NSA, the FBI and others to paint Anonymous into the “terrorist” category. When you combine the threat against the infrastructure service of the internet and the horrible security of many of our basic services (power, gas, water) someone came up with the idea to try and say that Anonymous would target these services. The fact that doing this would be counterproductive and would hurt them in their bid to win the hearts and minds of the people never occurred to the analysts that thought this one up. But as we have said before, it seems that the people responsible for protecting these services and for making the laws to govern them might need to take a few classes just so they understand what they are talking about.

We fully expect the Internet to up and operational tomorrow (and the rest of the weekend), but that does not mean that Anonymous isn’t eyeing another target, after all…. It is Friday.

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Read 3417 times Last modified on Friday, 30 March 2012 10:16

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