A Year Ago: Denial of Service attacks loom in GM food protest

First published: Thu, 16 Mar 2000 17:27:23 GMT

Denial of Service strikes will coincide with GM protest week

British cyber-activists, angry at the advent of GM foods, have pledged to launch Denial of Service attacks on several multinational organisations involved with the controversial foodstuffs.

The group, which calls itself the "Electrohippies", warned in an email sent to ZDNet UK News that it intends to organise DoS strikes against these corporations to coincide with the global week of GM protest that starts on 10 April. The Electrohippies promise "an email and client-side Denial of Service extravaganza".

This is not the first time the Electrohippies have used technology to make a point. In a protest against the World Trade Organisation in November, the group used Javascript to enable visitors on its own Web site to send repeated messages to the WTO site. It seems, however, that now the Electrohippies are working on new methods of attack.

"We'd like to spread the resources around the world to create 'distributed bandwidth'," the email reads. "The tools we are developing will select a source for control[ing] information at random in order to spread the load on the servers involved." The message also states that the group is looking to recruit volunteers to host the tools needed for the attacks.

The technique sounds similar to the "distributed" Denial of Service method developed to attack some of the largest Internet sites in the world last month. Sites including Yahoo! eBay, CNN, ZDNet and Amazon.com were brought down by floods of fake traffic sent from a number of remotely operated computers.

Taking a more traditional route, the "E-hippies" will also employ email lobbying to get their anti-GM message across.

The group wishes to raise awareness of and protest against:

  • The increasing use of intellectual property rights as a means of legalised extortion by corporations;

  • The development of genetic modification of foodstuffs and the effects on the environment, traditional agriculture-based economies, food quality and health.

A spokesman from CropGen, an organisation that represents scientific bodies connected with genetically modified foods, refused to comment on the threat. Representative from Monsanto, the largest and most high-profile GM corporation, also refused to comment.

The E-hippies recently published a paper calling for the broad use of Denial of Service attacks by protestors. In the paper, the group speculated that the recent spate of distributed Denial of Service attacks was committed by individuals protesting against the commercialisation of the Internet.

While many may support protests against GM foods in Britain, the suggestion that a cyber attack is akin to a street protest and, therefore, an appropriate means of demonstration, has been questioned by some conventional hackers. A member of US hacking group the Cult of the Dead Cow, which was responsible for producing a number of well-known hacking tools, issued a statement recently, outlining his objections to using these tactics.

"Denial of Service attacks are a violation of the First Amendment, and of the freedoms of expression and assembly," said the Cult's "Foreign Minister", OXblood Ruffin. "One does not make a better point in a public forum by shouting down one's opponent."

ZDNet will provide updates on the developments surrounding this issue.

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