You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

Summary: Anonymous vs. the Westboro Baptist Church. You could sell tickets.

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TOPICS: China, Security
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Update: This just gets better and better. According to a post by Anonymous (we think), the original threat may not have come from Anonymous, but instead by the WBC, trying to raise more awareness and get more visibility. No matter how you interpret this thing, remember one fact: people is crazy.

This week, I was going to embark on a formal definition of cyberwar, quoting from some of the greats of military history. But that's all going by the wayside today to report on the upcoming battle between the Westboro Baptist Church and Anonymous.

This is almost going to be more fun that watching a debate between Sarah Palin and, well, just about anyone else.

I have a warm place in my heart for Anonymous. Now, as a law-and-order guy, I have to point out that they sometimes break the law, and that's not something to be officially tolerated. But these guys have spirit. They're willing to make waves. They take on some of the good fights.

Plus, they're funny. I mean, YouTube Porn Day? Masterful. Wrong -- very, very, very wrong -- but masterful.

Then there's the Westboro Baptist Church. I don't normally take on religious organizations because, no matter how deluded they may seem to me, I generally believe devout people have the right to believe as they wish. But some organizations revel in wrapping themselves in the cloak of religiosity as a form of protection while they spread hate and anguish among their victims.

Westboro Baptist Church is one of those.

Crazy old Fred Phelps and his followers have protested outside funerals (including those of United States Marines), and verbally assaulting grieving families. These creeps actually issued a press release thanking their deity when thousands of people died in an earthquake in China and praised the attacks on 9/11. The list of nutball behaviors goes on and on, including repeated desecrations of the American flag.

No matter how you spin it, Phelps and his followers aren't exactly the poster children for good Christians (or sanity).

CBS News: Hackers warn Westboro Church: Stop now or else

Somehow or another, the WBC came to the attention of Anonymous, an organization of slightly unhinged geeks who unleash cyberattacks on pretty much anyone who annoys them.

This week, Anonymous issued an ultimatum, which essentially told the WBC folk to stop their heinous behavior or Anonymous will unleash a can of whoop on ya'll. One particularly juicy line:

We will target your public Websites, and the propaganda & detestable doctrine that you promote will be eradicated; the damage incurred will be irreversible, and neither your institution nor your congregation will ever be able to fully recover.

Now, let's be clear on something. Anonymous is effective. They have a very powerful DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) network and they've unleashed it with substantial success in the past.

So -- and here comes the funny -- just how does Westboro Baptist Church respond? Do they run to their lawyers or law enforcement? Do they think about the sorts of activities they've done all these years and wonder, really, whether the fight with Anonymous is worth it?

No, no they don't. Instead, they bait the angry dog. Here's the response by Phelps' granddaughter (yes, apparently, he did reproduce, disturbing as that may be):

Twitter address obscured on purpose. Don't follow her.

Now can you see what I mean by fun?

Look, I can't condone cyberattacks by anyone, but darn it all if -- wink, wink, nudge, nudge -- this one might be worth turning the other cheek and looking away for just a little while while Anonymous dishes out some well-deserved justice the old-fashioned, digital way.

You're welcome to TalkBack below, but be aware that we will squash hate speech with the divine power of the almighty delete button. Then we will mock you.

Topics: China, Security

About

David Gewirtz, Distinguished Lecturer at CBS Interactive, is an author, U.S. policy advisor, and computer scientist. He is featured in the History Channel special The President's Book of Secrets and is a member of the National Press Club.

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  • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

    "No matter how you spin it, Phelps and his followers aren?t exactly the poster children for good Christians (or sanity)."

    Christianity is about love. These people, like many may claim to be Christians, and even use "Baptist" in the name to seem more like a church, but the actions and even their thought process is very non-Christian.

    God loves the gay people they hate just as much as he loves them... that probably makes their blood boil...

    SInce they seem to follow many teachings of Christ, even if not all, they cannot back down to a threat against their religious beliefs... but I wouldn't have been surprised if they did, as they don't really seem to be Christians.
    doh123
    • Love ... and other nonsense

      @doh123

      "Christianity is about love".... that's just ... precious. I know I'm gonna sound a little like a hate-monger. Nothing could be further from the truth. But... I can't let this one go.

      Are we talking about the same religion that had ... you know ... those "loving" things like ... inquisitions, witch burnings, the crusades?

      The same religion, that to this day, still holds that women can't be heads of the religion (catholic and greek orthodoxy)?

      The same religion, that to this day still preaches against gays (and yeah, parts of the protestant churches are included in this one)?

      But I guess the *rest* of it is all "peace and love". Let's just forget roughly 1500+ years of history...or so.

      Typical...members of a religion looking at the things they belief in and cherry-picking what they are willing to talk about.

      Disclaimer: I am in no way advocating for ANY other religion. Except ... maybe Appledeism and SteveJobs-ism. They're ... naaaaiiiice.
      rock06r
      • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

        @rock06r
        just like WBC... not everyone that claims to be Christians actually are.

        Many things done in the past (and currently just like WBC) in the name of Christianity are actually works of satan. He does everything he can to mislead people in his war against God.

        These bad things happen usualyl because of just a few people... who twist regligious teachings and writing to seem to means something other than they do. Just looking all over WBC's website, they have tons of quotes from the bible taken completely out of context and used in ways that they don't even fit... but if you just glance at them it sounds like they do. People need to learn things for themselves and stop trusting what other people are telling them... when those other people are just trying to use you for their own ends.

        The "Catholic" church unfortunately is not Christian... there are some Christians mixed up in there and lost, but the Church itself was just made to take Christianity and to try to use it to control people.

        People also seem to (with many religions) mix up culture and tradition with actual religious teachings. Women not being in charge is not a "Christian" thing, its people taking certain teachings and trying to twist them to fit anything else they want them to fit into, even if they shouldn't be.
        doh123
      • Are you saying that someone can't misuse religion for their own gains?

        @rock06r if you want to group all religous zealots as the same thing, go ahead - it just shows how much you don't understand.

        Just as Steve Jobs can fool his customers into buying and doing anything Jobs wants, so too can religous leaders use their followers against others they don't like.

        ll you know is of those who make the news - you never hear of those that do follow the teachings of love because it's not as sensational (pretty boring to watch people sitting in church or helping a stranger) as someone strapping an AK-47 to their arm killing anyone who [i]doesn't believe[/i].
        Ron Burgundey
      • Christianity is about love

        That doesn't mean people don't misuse it.
        Michael Alan Goff
      • When you have to go back 500 years for your examples

        you aren't making much of a case.
        fr_gough
    • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

      @Ron Burgenduy
      "Just as Steve Jobs can fool his customers into buying and doing anything Jobs wants, so too can religous leaders use their followers against others they don't like."

      gewirtz loves you i'm sure. the sane world thinks you need a time out.
      sportmac
    • Don't have to go back 500 years....

      frgough@...

      Women still can't be pope. That's TODAY, not 500 years ago. The Catholic church was aligned with the Nazi's in WWII - Jewish owned art ended up in the Vatican. That's about 65 years ago, not 500.

      Should I include those recent events like the TV Evangelists that got caught keeping millions of dollars for themselves (ongoing?).

      The idea that "the devil" is a separate entity from the rest of the church is... even more crazy than subscribing to the rest of this nonsense in the first place.
      rock06r
      • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

        @rock06r
        what's your point? rabins & preachers stealing exists, existed & will exist
        What do you care about the pope not being a female? leave that to feminist, are you a feminist?
        Churches are human entities, and battlefield #1 of good & evil. You think churches must desappear? of course, if you're intelligent must known that churches, as well as corrupted officers, always existed & will exist.
        theo_durcan
  • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

    it seems the open letter to WBC could be a hoax...

    i'd still enjoy watching WBC get taken down tho.
    Lone Goat
    • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

      @Lone Goat
      just like WBC pickets anywhere to get attention, and even bombed themselves to blame others.. for the attention... it is possible they did this whole thing as a hoax, to also get attention.
      doh123
    • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

      @Lone Goat I'd enjoy them being taken down too...with a nuke.
      Ron Burgundy
  • unintended consequences....

    Great. An organization that thrives on publicity (and I'm not talking about Anonymous) is now thrust once again into the spotlight where it's teachings will be trotted out for the mainstream media.

    The WBC online presence is not critical to their operation. In fact I'm sure it exists solely to broadcast their messages. So they lose a channel that reaches thousands a day in exchange for a channel that reaches millions....

    And in a matter of weeks Anonymous moves on, the WBC gets their online presence back, and they will have hundreds if not thousands of new followers who were introduced to the WBC message thanks to Anonymous.

    Baiting Anonymous was the smartest thing WBC could have done - if they wanted their message spread - and so they did. Makes a compelling story even better. Expect to see more pithy comments from the WBC. I'll bet that grand-daughter has a degree in communications....

    I don't think this is what the vigilante group - and make no mistake about that, they are a vigilante group - had in mind.
    snberk341
    • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

      @snberk341 Actually, she's an attorney like several of the people at the top of the WBC organization. WBC make their money by suing those who violate their "rights," and have been very successful at it. WBC is a great example of the law failing to do what most of us think it should do.
      Bill4
  • It is hoax!!!!

    They want to harvest IP's so they can sue!!! Check this out!!! http://anonnews.org/?p=press&a=item&i=494
    PAR501
    • Probably why Mr. G is hyping this story...

      @PAR501 WBC and FBI set up the servers, put out this press release, and wait for the script kiddies to start DDoS-ing. Nice try, but even if it worked it would merely catch the stupid.
      HollywoodDog
  • David, don't be a hypocrite

    Either you approve of Anonymous or you don't. Quit sitting on the fence. Official approval by government is not a guarantee of right. Personally I'm of the opinion that legal does not necessarily equal right and when they conflict you follow right.

    Yes, that means I approve of vigilantes--when they're the good guys. When vigilantes are bad guys they're wrong and I don't approve of them.

    But have you noticed Anonymous isn't really being hunted by the government? A little noise here and there, but no hard core hunt. Just theatre.

    As for this particular fight--go get 'em Anonymous. WBC may truly believe what they're doing is right, but in doing it they're attacking innocents--and that places them squarely in the bad guy column as far as I'm concerned.
    wolf_z
  • Good point

    "Do they run to their lawyers or law enforcement? Do they think about the sorts of activities they?ve done all these years and wonder, really, whether the fight with Anonymous is worth it? No, no they don?t. Instead, they bait the angry dog."

    Far cry from MasterCard, who run screaming like a lot of poncey hairdressers.
    HollywoodDog
  • RE: You wanna cyberwar? We'll give ya a cyberwar -- and it's gonna be fun!

    I'm assuming there are more pressing matters for Anonymous these days than the pursuit of the self-parodying church in question. The brief headlining duel was entertaining while it lasted, however.
    KnowledgeEmpire
  • a nice week ahead

    beer and ribs bloodbath
    Quebec-french