Weekend Anonymous attacks bring down major websites

CBS, Universal Music, and Vivendi, among others, were brought down by Anonymous DDoS attacks over the weekend. Is Facebook next?
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

What appeared in place of the CBS site during the DNS poisoning attack.

This blank page appeared in place of the CBS site during the DNS poisoning attack.

The Internet-based hacker and protest group Anonymous is still ticked up by the Department of Justice's (DoJ) takedown of Megaupload. Last week, Anonymous took down the DoJ, the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), and Universal Music with a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack. Over the weekend, Anonymous brought down CBS, Universal Music, and Vivendi. Will Facebook be next?

While Universal Music and Vivendi, the French media giant that owns Universal, were brought down by a DDoS attack, CBS, ZDNet's parent company, was hit by a Domain Name System (DNS) poisoning attack.

In the CBS attack, it appeared that the site itself had been hacked and all its content deleted. That wasn't the case. The CBS site was fine. What actually happened was that DNS record for the site's IP address was changed to a fake site that contained a single blank page. IF you'd attempted to reach any of CBS's sub-sites, for a TV show's page for example, you would have gotten only a generic 404 Not Found error message page.

Anonymous is also planning on attacking sites that support the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Poland is expected to be the next country to ratify ACTA so Anonymous supporters are being encourage to attack Polish government sites on January 24th.

Facebook may be the next target. A video allegedly from Anonymous asks users to attack the popular social Website on 12:00 AM EST on January 28, 2012. No real reason for attacking Facebook is given, save "To show them indeed that we are not, playing." Attackers are encouraged to use DDoS programs for this assault.

However, there have been false claims before that Anonymous was going to attack Facebook. With no other reason than to attack Facebook than to show that it can be done, and with issues more important to Anonymous supporters such as the Megaupload takedown and ACTA demanding action, I suspect the Facebook call to arms is a hoax.

That said, sites that do have a stake in issues that Anonymous care about should continue to keep their DDoS defenses on high. As the last few days have shown, any site can be taken down by a sufficiently powerful DDoS attack or side-lined by DNS poisoning.

Related Stories:

How Anonymous took down the DoJ, RIAA, MPAA and Universal Music Websites

Anonymous to attack Facebook on January 28 (video)

Anonymous hacks DOJ, RIAA, MPAA and Universal Music websites

How to try to stop DDoS Attacks

DDoS: How to take down WikiLeaks, MasterCard or any other Web site

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