Since September of this year, major attacks have taken out (hacked, exposed, exploited or service-disrupted and largely taken offline) a lineup of companies and entities that many previously thought of as untouchable.
A significant number of those attacked openly mocked online community "hacktivists," resting on an assumed "untouchable" status. In fact, that assumption is kind of what they all have in common.
Well, that and a certain arrogance - at least that is what was cited in the Gawker attack, which was (is) an example of serious attack that is not actual downtime. #Gnosis stormed Gawker's shores and pillaged their villages, publishing commenter passwords, obtaining emails and BaseCamp access, and promising a full database dump. The damage is severe.
#Gnosis is new, and they are not 4Chan, or Anonymous.
For me, Anonymous is associated with the individuals wearing V for Vendatta Guy Fawkes masks who went up against the Church of Scientology back in 2008. This meme started when Tom Cruise went all creepy-crazy about Scientology in a video that the church then had removed from YouTube in a censorious flex of muscle.
Attacks began on the Scientology church, and a video was made by "Anonymous" wearing the iconic masks. Anonymous/Project Chanolgy launched DDoS attacks on the church along with various pranks such as black faxes sent to Scientology centers.
Most remarkable were the physical protests staged by people in cities and at Scientology centers all over the world. They all showed up wearing the Fawkes mask, ostensibly to protect identities from the Church of Scientology.
In close association is Operation Payback, who reminds us of their origins with their logo of a black pirate ship with its mainsail emblazoned with a cassette tape and crossbones. Avast ye scurvy copyright dogs; they'll reduce you to analog.
The ship is a nod to Pirate Bay's logo: the ship. The tape, likely a freely exchanged mixtape of music from a variety of RIAA artists, is important. Operation Payback ("…is a bitch") went after entities that used strong-arm tactics to try and stop file sharing.
The first documented shot with Payback, if you will, was actually not from OP hackers. It was fired from "music industry good guys" - when a company hired Aipex Software to launch a DDoS attack on the servers of torrent sites - namely Pirate Bay - that were not responding to the industry's takedown notices.
Operation Confuse The Media
Not all of the big-league hits have been from Operation Payback, but that hasn't stopped media outlets from crediting them for many of the recent attacks. In fact, most major media outlets are in a state of utter confusion about what is happening, how it is happening, and why it is happening.
It's important to note that Operation Payback and Anonymous are not the same thing, and they are also not the same as 4chan, nor do they act as Wikileaks or Pirate Bay. This confuses mainstream media, who is used to simple, take-me-to-your-leader answers - but distributed and decentralized are not simple concepts.
It is not unlike watching your peepaw unsuccessfully try to distinguish his emails from his "FacePage."
Well, the rest is poorly documented history. But we do know that the scorecard is riveting. Whether it's Operation Payback, Anonymous, or any number of other activists - the targets comprise a list with names so big it almost looks like a farcical Hollywood creation.
The Cyber War Hacks and Attacks Scorecard
I wanted to see the big-league damage - from original Operation Payback and first Anonymous campaigns to current pro-Wikileaks DDoS attacks.
This is not a complete list, just highlights:
ACS: Law (represents Warner, MGM, Universal and Sony) Big data breach; downtime: 179 hours
It would be ideal to have financials - I'd like to see how much, if any, these entities lost. The pain and suffering award goes to Gawker (#Gnosis) - truly the most humiliating of the lot. The RIAA, with 7 days down, is quite astonishing - followed by ACS: Law (both Operation Payback).
Yet who ever thought Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal (Anonymous) could be publicly smacked around - all in a day?
Or, just another day online.
What do you think: whose side are you on - if any? We're watching for your comments.