'Hacktivists' wage Iraq war online
March 2003 Credit: ABC News http://www.abc.net.au/news/media
battles rage in the Iraqi desert, pro- and anti-war
"hacktivists" are using virtual weapons
to take out enemy websites and cause online shock
Internet activists fall roughly into three categories:
patriotic Americans, Islamic extremists and peace
activists who back neither side in the Iraq conflict
but are against war.
was presumably members of the first category who attacked
the website of the controverisal Arabic TV news station
of spam, or electronic junk mail, knocked its website
out for three days this week, apparently orchestrated
by US hackers incensed over its footage of dead US
and British soldiers.
who did manage to get through to the site were on
Thursday redirected by a mischievous hacker to a webpage
depicting a red, white and blue US map with the slogan
"God Bless Our Troops".
suspected extremist Islamic group meanwhile hacked
early this week into an Internet bulletin board run
in the United States by a high school student in the
town of Homer in Alaska, press reports said.
turned it into an Al Qaeda propaganda site that called
for attacks on the United States in reply to the war
the United States, federal, state and local government
sites have been hit with anti-war slogans and rude
messages directed at President George W Bush.
such as the Electrohippie Collective, which dubs its
site the Free Range Activism Website, have been encouraging
anti-war attacks, offering downloadable programs that
can run "cyber sit-ins" from the user's
Spain, www.noalaguerra.org, which means "no to
war", organized a spam attack on the official
site of the ruling Popular Party, whose leader Prime
Minister Jose Maria Aznar supports the war on Iraq.
than 100,000 e-mails hit the site's servers on Thursday,
knocking it out for most of the day, according to
technicians at the party headquarters.
US Government report on Monday said hack attacks had
spiked in response to the US-led military action against
Iraq, disrupting websites operated by businesses,
government and the military.
attacks were "taking a toll on businesses through
customer service interruption (denial of service),
malicious e-mails and viruses, data and credit card
piracy, identity theft and loss of reputation,"
the US State Department report said.
from standard hacking activities, four worms and viruses
have been identified that spread as attachments to
e-mail which seek to exploit interest in the Iraq
war, says F-Secure, a Finnish antivirus software company.
of the worms, called Prune, has a subject line such
as "US Government Material - Iraq Crisis,"
an F-Secure executive told media this week.
worm is apparently aimed at people with friends or
relatives in the military who want to get information
about the crisis and are tricked into opening the
attachment and activating the worm, which then tries
to erase operating system files.
10,000 defacements have been reported or confirmed
during the past week and it is clear that the actual
number is much higher," F-secure said in a statement
similar increase in online activism occurred in 1999,
when the United States and NATO launched air strikes
on federal Yugoslavia because of its role in Kosovo.
it looks like the Iraq war, increasingly an electronically-powered
conflict in the field, is also taking computer "hacktivism"
to new heights.