MIT website hacked by Anonymous on anniversary of Aaron Swartz suicide

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.
Written by Violet Blue, Contributor

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was a result of overzealous prosecution by the Department of Justice and what the family deemed a "bullying" use of outdated computer crime laws.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 ussc.gov 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.

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