Friday, December 10, 2010

WikiLeaks Cyberwar: Looks Like It Was Just A Skirmish; Attacks Being Wound Down?; My Inner Anarchist Is Sad...

"A young British hacker behind the online vigilante Operation: Payback says they’ve made their point and have called off their disruption of MasterCard, Visa and Amazon sites.

Jamming and threatening to shut down “brought notoriety to the case,” the anonymous hacker who uses the name Coldblood told the BBC. “It makes it less easy for the government to do this to future sites.”

Meanwhile, the “Internet gathering” called Anonymous that is behind Operation: Payback will keep slowing down the online payment system PayPal and is considering a new tactic, the group said in a news release on Friday."

TheStar - WikiLeaks says it would be ‘in bad taste’ to take down Amazon


ANON OPS: A Press Release December 10, 2010

"Web attacks carried out in support of Wikileaks are being wound down as activists consider changing tactics."

"At the same time one wing of the activist group suggested ditching the attacks and doing more to publicise what is in the leaked cables."

"The attacks have been carried out using a tool, called LOIC, that allows people to bombard a site of their choosing with data or let the target be chosen by those running the Anonymous campaign.

The tool launches what is known as a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack which tries to knock a website offline by bombarding it with so much data that it cannot respond.

The LOIC tool has been downloaded more than 46,000 times but, said Anonymous activists in a tweet, this did not translate into enough people using it to knock the retail giant off the web.

Instead, the attack was re-directed towards Paypal and its computer systems which, according to a status page, has intermittently suffered "performance issues" ever since."

"The chances of success could be boosted by a new version of LOIC written in web programming language Javascript that allows anyone with a browser, including on a mobile phone, to launch attacks.

However, defences against the attacks were being drawn up as security firms scrutinise the code behind LOIC to work out how attacks happen. Some suggest that well-written firewall rules would be able to filter out most of the harmful traffic."

BBC - Anonymous Wikileaks supporters mull change in tactics


Long rambling personal ideological statement warning (you may desire to not read this section):

Having spent a decade wandering around the social sciences at university, I can point to plenty of historical precedence for short lived uprisings that presaged a larger event.

And while I am in no way advocating illegal activity (c.f. job [real world], CSIS visits, police watch lists), mass protest is a time honoured tradition when normal avenues to effect change fail. At this, the attacks by anonymous appear to have made a point. There are also a whole lot of people who have been made aware that they can join in, and new tools to make it easier have been developed.

I think we can point to LOIC as a cyber version of the Molotov cocktail, though likely without its staying power...

My general support of transparency and accountability is still present. My suspicion of the oligarchs that run our planet is still deep and abiding. It is my belief that over the last 30 years (starting with the Thatcher/Reagan/Mulroney era) our liberty and freedom has been eroded - political and economic freedom. The changes wrought on the world - led by the war criminals George W. Bush and Dick Cheney - after the World Trade Centre attacks (9/11) have been tilted strongly toward authoritarian control. The pseudo-religious/theocratic right wing has used the opportunity to reshape the world and strengthen the hold of the oligarchs/plutocrats by exploiting fear.

While I am not part of the attacks, and won't be (at minimum prudence [and a lot of knowledge about tracking people who attack my servers {i've been on the receiving end of Denial Of Service attacks}] prevents me from participation, as well as moral and ethical questions about "attacking"), I am well informed of and have observed the culture of anonymous for some time. I have supported and provided moderating advice over the years to some elements of (the often quite young and overenthusiastic/simplistic) anonymous (no, i don't know their identities... they're f*ing anonymous...) on how to safeguard, expose, and distribute information on some of their targets - paedophiles, white supremacists, other large aggressive entities (that won't be named because they target critics).

I disagree with much of the tasteless "wilding" and internet pranks and vandalism of anonymous - why I described them as "relatively vile" in past posts. I have watched anonymous mature as many of their leading voices have left their teen years behind.

These young people ("oh, how i wish i could be in their number...") are harbingers of a new way of thinking and a new way of organising our society. Since my early involvement with the early internet (and the species it killed - "online services") starting over 20 years ago and with free software and open source projects, I have observed the changes that the culture of the internet has infused into our society. The internet is the largest and longest lived functioning (sort of) political anarchy in human history. The methods of organisation that have grown organically from the non-hierarchical structure of the internet have found their way into the real world. Marshall McLuhan's phrases "the medium is the message" and "global village" have certainly come to life in the internet. The medium, technology, and structure of the internet - with few central controls - has shaped how it allows organisation. That structure is anarchy. Because humans are naturally industrious, we find ways to work with pretty much anything. And so people found ways to use and build within the context of the structure of the internet. Organic growth from the nutrient medium of information and free sharing.

As a non-doctrinaire anarcho-collectivist with strong Rochdalian cooperativist leanings, I am well disposed to some of the principles advocated by anonymous.
"Governments of the Industrial World, you weary giants of meat and mineral, we are from the Internet. The new home of social consciousness. On behalf of the future of this culture, I ask you of the obsolete past to leave us alone. You are not welcome among us. You have no sovereignty where we gather.

We have no elected government, nor are we ever likely to have one, so I address you with no greater authority than that with which liberty itself always speaks; anonymity [I do not agree that liberty speaks with greatest authority when anonymous - far from it - liberty is exercised by the anonymous when those with power seek to suppress liberty and freedom - liberty by definition should allow open, not anonymous, voices - James]. I declare the global social space we are building together to be naturally independent of the tyrannies and injustices you seek to impose on us. You have no moral right to rule us nor do you possess any real methods of enforcement we have true reason to fear.

Governments derive their judicial powers from the consent of the governed. You have neither solicited nor received ours. You have not engaged in our great and gathering conversation, nor did you create the wealth of our marketplaces. The rapid growth of government censorship of the Web has not escaped our notice. Cyberspace does not lie within your borders. Do not think that you can build it, as though it were a public construction project. You cannot. It is an act of nature and it grows itself through our collective actions.

You claim there are problems among us that you need to solve. You use this claim to further impose unjust restrictions on our civil freedoms and rights. We cannot allow this. We consider this your formal warning, that if you continue to impose unjust control on us, you will meet with disaster." [anonymous]

As a tech and science fiction weenie, i am also well disposed toward the "borg" like/derived end statements (but for humour reasons):

"We are anonymous, we are legion,

We do not forgive, and we do not forget.

Expect us."

As a former Dungeons and Dragons weenie, I am also tickled by news reports of their self-description of being "chaotic good", but these two instances (among others), I think may just reflect a high degree of nerdishness in myself...


Appendix comments:


"Anarchists are those who advocate the absence of the state, arguing that inherent human nature would allow people to come together in agreement to form a functional society allowing for the participants to freely develop their own sense of morality, ethics or principled behaviour. The rise of anarchism as a philosophical movement occurred in the mid 19th century, with its idea of freedom as being based upon political and economic self-rule. This occurred alongside the rise of the nation-state and large-scale industrial state capitalism or state-sponsored corporatism, and the political corruption that came with their successes.

Although anarchists share a rejection of the state, they differ about economic arrangements and possible rules that would prevail in a stateless society, ranging from no ownership, to complete common ownership, to supporters of private property and capitalist free market competition. For example, some forms of anarchism, such as that of anarcho-collectivism, anarcho-communism or anarcho-syndicalism not only seek rejection of the state, but also other systems which they perceive as authoritarian, which include capitalism, capitalist markets, and title-based property ownership. In opposition, a political philosophy known as free-market anarchism, contemporary individualist anarchism or anarcho-capitalism, argues that a society without a state is a free market capitalist system that is voluntarist in nature.

The word "anarchy" is often used by non-anarchists as a pejorative term, intended to connote a lack of control and a negatively chaotic environment. However, anarchists still argue that anarchy does not imply nihilism, anomie, or the total absence of rules, but rather an anti-statist society that is based on the spontaneous order of free individuals in autonomous communities." - [wikipedia]


Rochdale Principles:
Original version (adopted 1937)

1. Open membership.
2. Democratic control (one person, one vote).
3. Distribution of surplus in proportion to trade.
4. Payment of limited interest on capital.
5. Political and religious neutrality.
6. Cash trading (no credit extended).
7. Promotion of education.

ICA revision (1966)

1. Open, voluntary membership.
2. Democratic governance.
3. Limited return on equity.
4. Surplus belongs to members.
5. Education of members and public in cooperative principles.
6. Cooperation between cooperatives.
7. Concern for community



Collectivist anarchism:

"Collectivist anarchism (also known as anarcho-collectivism) is a revolutionary[1] doctrine that advocates the abolition of the state and private ownership of the means of production. Instead, it envisions the means of production being owned collectively and controlled and managed by the producers themselves.

For the collectivization of the means of production, it was originally envisaged that workers will revolt and forcibly collectivize the means of production[1] Once collectivization takes place, workers' salaries would be determined in democratic organizations based on the amount of time they contributed to production. These salaries would be used to purchase goods in a communal market.[2] This contrasts with anarcho-communism where wages would be abolished, and where individuals would take freely from a storehouse of goods "to each according to his need." Thus, Bakunin's "Collectivist Anarchism," notwithstanding the title, is seen as a blend of individualism and collectivism.[3]

Collectivist anarchism is most commonly associated with Mikhail Bakunin, the anti-authoritarian sections of the First International, and the early Spanish anarchist movement." [wikipedia]

For the record, I am not in favour of the total abolition of private ownership. I firmly believe that owner operated/controlled activity is essential to the functioning of even a utopian anarcho-collectivist society - you can't change human nature - people want to secure themselves and their families. The question is: Do you allow people to transmit so much wealth and power that it permanently skews power to those families?

I also believe that personal reward and "ownership" is a substantial and good reward to those who work harder and better. Just as their are differing levels of ability and differing levels of motivation to work - so there should also be a differential set of rewards. But those rewards should not just automatically accrue to the progeny of those who work hard - additional reward should go to those who actually produce more. I consider the ability of collectives to set their own internal reward structure based on their own independent organisational structure to be consistent with principles of anarco-collectivism.


End of ramble

The revolution may be aborted for now, but the developments of this time will send shockwaves through the world for some time.

Hope is not dead.


  1. I don't think the end is near quite yet. There is still plenty of closet anarchy fun yet. I just don't think a loose cadre of young punks - even if there are thousands - are enough to truly do damage to large corporations. But they can reek havoc. And it is fun to watch the big boys be taken down a notch.

  2. Jymn:

    I hope the end hasn't arrived. An ongoing brush war/"low intensity conflict" between anonymous and the oligarchs would be good sport to watch.


    On the closet fun part, I completely agree. It is good to see some ossified bones rattled by something the "captains of industry" are too old or out of touch to even comprehend.

    that's one of the reasons i keep referring to the french revolution


    when i see the methods of this conflict, i am reminded of what "low intensity warfare" (blowing up bridges and other infrastructure) did to Nicaragua when the Americans (and the current secretary of defense) were backing the contras

    it would be interesting to see the equivalent kind of battles of infrastructure attrition be directed against those who control large and transnational capital

  3. It was amusing to see botnets, which I thought were totally evil, being used to defend democracy against American corporations for one thing. The war is still on I think, but the first battles have ended with the rebels causing little damage, but raised their profiles a lot.

  4. It was amusing to see botnets, which I thought were totally evil, being used to defend democracy...

    Slave owners brought us the American Revolution, and some of the most powerful words in history...

    "When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

    We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security."


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