Commentary on Patriotic Hacking
Attrition staff have been getting several mails warning of impending
"patriotic hacking" in retaliation for the terrorist attacks on September
11. Some are from the usual opportunists, exploiting world-wide
attention on the recent terrorist attacks to further their own agenda.
Others are from people who just want to do -something- to feel like they
are striking back at those responsible, even if it's the wrong thing. We
have all been profoundly affected in our own way by what has occurred, but
a reality check is in order. How effective are "cyber-attacks"?
First, let's put "cyber-war/jihad/whatever" in perspective to the very
real, physical attacks of September 11, 2001. Buildings that were as
familar to people as their homes were utterly destroyed. Thousands of
people were killed. There are no "backups" to restore what has been lost
forever. -No one- was ever killed from a "cyber attack".
In a "cyber-war", where is the enemy? The FBI would just love to know that
hackers have managed to positively identify which sites belong to those
responsible for the terrorist attacks. Even if they could be identified,
attacking them could destroy crucial evidence. Blindly attacking sites
perceived to be vaguely Arabic is just plain stupid. Attacking sites of
people who aren't even remotely involved to vent emotions is even more
What would be the results of a so-called "hacker call to arms"? Typical
bottom-feeders will exploit the opportunity presented to generate press
and revenue. Law-enforcement is already demanding greater discretionary
powers and restrictions on cryptography. The Internet was not the
instrument of this any more than freedom was. Hackers who participate in
this are providing a nicely wrapped package to justify knee-jerk
legislation that will restrict our freedom in the name of "security". Make
no mistake - legislating the Internet will not make us more secure. A
group with the resolve to murder thousands of innocent people will not be
deterred by Internet restrictions. They will just find another way.
The biggest result of a "hacker call to arms" is that it will generate a
lot of noise that will aid the enemy in destroying our freedom - something
they will not permit their own people. If what is perceived to be "our side"
attacks "their side", the retaliatory attacks will keep fueling this futile
"battle". Our industries need to focus on rebuilding, not responding to
nonsense. Those who participate in this should be considered agents of the
This is not to say that we shouldn't take extra precautions to safeguard
our networks. People are in a very raw emotional state right now, no doubt
making mistakes trying to cope with compromise solutions. Technical people
who want to help should do so in whatever way they can, whether it be to
volunteer time and skill to the businesses affected, or even just
answering technical questions. Those who can't do that should at least
help by staying out of the way for now. Don't exploit this for self
© 1999, 2000, 2001 Copyright Brian Martin
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