[ISN] 'Hacktivists' Log On

InfoSec News isn at c4i.org
Wed Aug 25 06:21:23 EDT 2004


[How much do you want to bet that young CrimethInc is lashing out
against his Republican parents for not getting him a pony for his 
10th birthday, not buying him a car for his 16th birthday, and he 
REALLY holds a grudge?   - WK]

By Sarah Childress
Aug. 30, 2004 issue

As protesters in New York paint signs and map out marching routes for
next week's Republican National Convention, on the other side of the
country another kind of protester is working stealthily by the glow of
a computer screen. Aided by a young radical computer hacker calling
himself CrimethInc, a group of politically active "hacktivists" are
plotting to disrupt the convention electronically. CrimethInc and his
"Black Hat Hackers Bloc" vow they'll take down Republican Web sites,
e-mail servers, phones and fax lines, alter electronic billboards and
cause what he calls unspecified "financial disruption."

They don't plan to do it alone. Last week CrimethInc e-mailed a call 
to arms to hackers across the country, with instructions on causing 
electronic disruptions. But no sooner did he hit send than his e-mail 
account was deactivated and he disappeared into the ether. Earlier, by 
pay phone, CrimethInc told NEWSWEEK, "We don't believe that extremist 
right-wing groups ... have the right to be able to put forth their 
propaganda." (The New York police computer-crime unit is watching for 
threats, says spokesman Paul Browne. "Sometimes it's a combination of 
boasting and planning, but we take it seriously," he says. "We'll take 
appropriate action if there's any malicious activity.")

A tall guy with tousled hair and wire-rimmed glasses, CrimethInc sees
himself as David fighting Goliath. But it's not just Republicans who
disagree with him - he's taken the most flak from fellow hacktivists.  
On Web forums and at recent conventions, they complain that he gives
hacktivism a bad name and violates their code to defend free speech.  
"If you've got an issue with a political opponent, you create a better
argument and publicize that, but you don't shout them down in a
town-hall meeting," says hacktivist Oxblood Ruffin. "That's basically
what you're doing when you shut down someone's Web site."

It's hard to tell whether CrimethInc's group is all talk. But his 
arrogant, anti-establishment speech at a recent hacker convention 
convinced some attendees that he's at least determined enough to cause 
damage. It wouldn't take much; even something as simple as crashing a 
Web site for a few hours at peak times could wreak havoc on the GOP's 
well-laid convention plans.

The bloc isn't the only group planning online attacks. Hacktivists
from the well-established Electronic Disturbance Theater will stage a
"virtual sit-in" on a Republican site during the convention, using
software that floods servers with requests for Web sites. (The group
used the same tactic to bring down the World Economic Forum's site in
2002.) Ricardo Dominguez, the group's director and New York University
prof, gives a nod to CrimethInc for mixing code and politics. But he
can't fully endorse any anonymous protester - real hacktivists, he
says, log on to be counted.

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