MIT website hacked by Anonymous on anniversary of Aaron Swartz suicide

MIT website hacked by Anonymous on anniversary of Aaron Swartz suicide

Summary: Late on January 10, the hacktivism entity Anonymous hacked and defaced MIT letting the institution know Anonymous will not forget the tragic suicide of hacker Aaron Swartz.

TOPICS: Security

On the anniversary of young hacker and digital activist Aaron Swartz's death, Anonymous has re-engaged its Operation Last resort to hack MIT's website, taking over the server for its Cogeneration project.

The website has been defaced for one hour. The page is now titled THE DAY WE FIGHT BACK. (Update Monday Janyary 13: MIT's Cogen website went offline Saturday, January 11 at around noon PST and remains offline.)

See also: Researcher describes ease to detect, derail and exploit NSA's Lawful Interception

The defacement states "REMEMBER THE DAY WE FIGHT BACK REMEMBER" and remains as of this writing, with the SSL-enabled version of the site redirecting to the page on load.

anonymous hack MIT

Reddit, Creative Commons and Demand Progress co-founder Aaron Swartz committed suicide in New York City on Friday, Jan. 11, 2013.

MIT previously claimed to have played a neutral role in the prosecution of Aaron Swartz, however information later suggested that MIT likely played an active role in the prosecution.

Last weekend, his father Bob Swartz featured in the widely-read editorial Losing Aaron where much ground was laid to put the blame for the young hacker's death squarely at the feet of MIT, which as an institution stated it would play a neutral role -- yet wilfully helped the prosecution, alongside Swartz's girlfriend at the time Quinn Norton.

The Operation Last Resort campaign is retaliation for the suicide, which many - including the Swartz family - believe was a result of overzealous prosecution by the Department of Justice and what the family deemed a "bullying" use of outdated computer crime laws.

Anonymous has directed visitors who land on MIT's Cogen website to the website for "The Day We Fight Back," a protest on February 11, 2014 against surveillance.

"The Day We Fight Back" is a protest day in honor of Aaron Swartz, and to draw attention to the activist's role in the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act. Participants include Demand Progress, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Fight for the Future, Reddit, Mozilla, and more.

Either Anonymous is doing some pre-press for the event, or it is suggesting there might be more in store on February 11.

This is not the first time Anonymous and its Operation Last resort has hacked MIT in the name of Aaron Swartz.

The first time was shortly after Swartz's suicide on January 11, 2013, and the second hack on MIT -- a huge takedown -- happened on January 22, 2013.


In September 2012, Aaron Swartz was charged with thirteen counts of felony hacking after a July 2011 arrest for allegedly scraping 4 million MIT papers from the JSTOR online journal archive.

JSTOR's academic paper database was recently made publicly available.

Swartz's family issued strong statements after the tragedy stating that they felt MIT and an overzealous Department of Justice prosecution led to Swartz's suicide.

The first hack on MIT's website was claimed by Anonymous and contrary to some of Anon's other aggressive hacks, the hacktivists left a statement calling for a reform to computer crime laws and included an apology to MIT for taking over its site.

Last year, the Anonymous Operation Last resort campaign was launched with the takedown of the federal U.S. Sentencing Commission website on January 25, and the distribution of what the Anonymous called "warheads."

Anonymous placed links to encrypted files mirrored on multiple websites on the page. The contents of these files is still unknown.

See: Anonymous hacks U.S Sentencing Commission, distributes files

ZDNet will update this article with new information as it becomes known.

Topic: Security

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  • Umm

    I get what they're doing but, I'm pretty sure those aren't the people you want to mess with as the brainpower at that school is off the charts. If their students get a little pride, they might just make these guys look dumb.
    • MIT does not have to do anything then

      To make them look dumb!
  • To answer that question

    "remember when we fight back" !!! no we don't..
  • Bullying?

    Government operatives bullying someone until they commit suicide? Gosh, who would have thought it.
    • suicide

      is a cowards way out. It is his way of saying he cannot cope with life because he doesn't have the thought capability to think things through.

      One good example is the group Anonymous. They do not have the ability to debate or talk or reason so they hide in their closets like cowards.

      Come out fa66ots. I hope all of you commit suicide or are caught.
      • response to bin00010111 "suicide is the coward's way out"

        If suicide is 'the coward's way out', then do you concede that your undisclosed identity must also be the act of a coward? Also, you dare to tell all of us that Aaron's diminished "thought capability" was evidenced by his choice of suicide. Your babble is a feeble, ignorant assault on a topic you were apparently unable to "think your way through" before displaying that your incapacity for empathy is secondary only to your very own impotent brain?
        Nancy Stuart
    • Of course they're protesting against surveillance.

      Anonymous wants to be able to steal anything they want without repercussions.

      Surveillance means they can get caught, and would have to go to jail. They want to be able to do the crime without having to worry about doing the time.
  • People who vandalize websites should be called what they are: terrorists

    Maybe Anonymous didn't fly an airliner into MIT, but the difference between their actions and those of Al Qaida are simply a matter of degree, not moral superiority. Hackers who vandalize websites (NOT whistleblowers like Snowden and Manning who did not damage the information sources they trespassed into) are inflicting harm on large numbers of INNOCENT people.

    The cooperation between MIT officials and law enforcement does NOT mean that EVERYONE at MIT or EVERYONE who accesses the MIT website is guilty of persecuting that poor baby Aaron Swartz, just specific individuals in the administration. Like a car bomb that kills people who just happen to be walking down the street as well as its alleged target, vandalizing a website is an untargeted weapon.

    Maybe the vandalism of the MIT website was minor, just putting snarky messages here and there, but other website vandals inflict much greater harm, such as crashing business websites using Denial of Service attacks and the like, or even installing destructive malware. These hackers are not heroes, they are terrorists.

    MIT does a large amount of research work in a variety of fields, including medical fields. Damaging their website could actually cause people to die.

    In my opinion, convicted computer criminals should be treated like child molesters, not heroes. We don't allow child molesters to work in daycare centers or grade schools. We should ban convicted computer criminals permanently from working in any computer-related job. That includes the most common occupation of convicted hackers which is "computer security consultants." Considering how few jobs today do NOT involve computer work, this would probably narrow down their career choices to digging ditches or washing dishes. Maybe then they would think twice about showing off their "hacking" skills (which is an insult to real hackers who are simply people who like to fool around with computers without harming anyone.)
  • mit gets hacked

    im surprised
  • MIT

    What does MIT stand for, Massachusetts Institute of Tiddlywinks?

    Should they not be at the forefront of technology and show it by producing decent net security?
    dumb blonde
    • That's an oxymoron

      saying "web security" is like saying Small elephant