Whose Internet is it anyway?

The idea that a handful of skilled individuals could decide to "take out" a particular group or company or government for any reason is now a reality.

This week we've seen two Internet events that are more alike than dissimilar. On Wednesday, an Estonian court convicted a 20-year Russian for his part in last spring's distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on that nation. On Thursday, word of mounting DDoS attacks on the Church of Scientology spread. Ultimately, both events could have larger repercussions.

The attack on the Estonian Web sites was prompted by an Estonian government plan to move a statue and grave sites honoring Russian-Estonians who died fighting the Nazis. Gadi Evron of Beyond Security said at last year's Black Hat USA that he found only one case of unique code used in the attacks which lasted from April 27 through mid-May. Evron said the attack had the appearance of an Internet flash mob, and now, with the conviction, it appears to have been loosely organized by a group of college kids. Evron cited evidence of at least one e-mail inciting Internet action on a particular date at a particular time during Estonian attacks.

A similar event is happening now. DDoS attacks against the Church of Scientology appear to be coming from a loosely organized group of individuals calling themselves Anonymous or Anon. The attacks, according to Jose Nazario of Arbor Networks, appear to use common code and early attacks originated from one IP address.

As with the events in Estonia, as news spread, more individuals may now be targeting the Church of Scientology in a sort of "me too" frenzy. A Web site called Project Chanology continues to detail present and future actions by Anonymous and others.

The idea that a handful of skilled individuals could decide to "take out" a particular group or company or government for any reason is a very disturbing one indeed.

About the author

    As CNET's former resident security expert, Robert Vamosi has been interviewed on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, and other outlets to share his knowledge about the latest online threats and to offer advice on personal and corporate security.

     

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