Animal rights protesters launched denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on Monday against seven organisations that work in the fur trade.
The group, calling itself "The Electronic Civil Disobedience (ECD) against the Fur and the Vivisection Industry", is attempting to crash the servers of companies associated with fur trade by flooding them with email over several days. The protesters have developed a software tool that enables an online chat forum to automatically send emails every time a new message is typed.
The group has vowed to attack the following organisations: Peek & Cloppenburg (P&C); Legacy Trading; The German Fur Institute (DPI); Fur Commission USA; Fur & Fashion GmbH; Maison de Bonneterie; and the MIFUR.
A statement on the ECD Web site said: "We're gonna put pressure on those companies and institutions which are responsible that [sic] animals like foxes or mink are still kept imprisoned in small cages, only to be killed for their fur after a few months."
A spokeswoman at Maison de Bonneterie confirmed that the attacks were happening, but declined to comment on the matter.
Security company MessageLabs has been watching the ECD Web site develop. Paul Wood, chief information security analyst for MessageLabs, said that the legality of the attacks depended on how they were being carried out.
"There is a fine line. It depends whether they use zombie machines. I suspect they don't, but I can’t be sure," said Wood.
Last year, Lycos' Make Love Not Spam campaign highlighted that DoS attacks are not covered by British law. The government has indicated that it wishes to update the Computer Misuse Act to make launching these attacks an offence, but at present companies may have trouble in prosecuting anyone who starts DoS attacks.