HACKER MAGAZINE CONDEMNS DENIAL OF SERVICE ATTACKS
New York, NY, December 10, 2010 - 2600 Magazine, a quarterly journal for the hacker community that has published since 1984, is speaking out against numerous media reports that hackers are responsible for a spate of attacks on numerous e-commerce corporations as part of the ongoing Wikileaks controversy.
Denial of service attacks against PayPal, Amazon, Visa, Mastercard, and other corporations and entities have been underway for the last few days, as widely reported in the mainstream media. Each of these targets had previously taken some sort of action against the whistleblower website wikileaks.org and its affiliates. The media reports almost invariably refer to "hackers" as being behind these actions. While there is great sympathy in the hacker world for what Wikileaks is doing, this type of activity is no better than the strong-arm tactics we are fighting against.
These attacks, in addition to being a misguided effort that doesn't accomplish very much at all, are incredibly simple to launch and require no technical or hacker skills. While writing such programs requires a good degree of ingenuity and knowledge of security weaknesses, this doesn't mean that everyone who runs them possesses the same degree of proficiency, nor should we necessarily believe people who claim to be doing this on behalf of the hacker community.
What the above named corporations have done to Wikileaks is inexcusable and constitutes a different sort of denial of service attack, one that is designed to eliminate an organization, an individual, or an idea. We find it inexplicable that donations can easily be made to hate groups and all sorts of convicted criminals through these same services, yet somehow a website that publishes leaked information - and which has never been charged or convicted of a crime - is considered unacceptable. We believe it's not the place of credit card companies or banks to judge the morality or potential threat level of anyone, let alone those who are following in the long tradition of journalists and free speech advocates worldwide.
The assault on Wikileaks must not be overshadowed by the recent denial of service attacks and these certainly must not be allowed to be associated with the hacker community. This will play right into the hands of those who wish to paint us all as threats and clamp down on freedom of speech and impose all kinds of new restrictions on the Internet, not to mention the fact that the exact same types of attacks can be used on "us" as well as "them." (Interestingly, it was only a week ago that "hackers" were blamed for denial of service attacks on Wikileaks itself. That tactic was ineffectual then as well.) Most importantly, these attacks are turning attention away from what is going on with Wikileaks. This fight is not about a bunch of people attacking websites, yet that is what is in the headlines now. It certainly does not help Wikileaks to be associated with such immature and boorish activities any more than it helps the hacker community. From what we have been hearing over the past 24 hours, this is a viewpoint shared by a great many of us. By uniting our voices, speaking out against this sort of action, and correcting every media account we see and hear that associates hackers with these attacks, we stand a good chance of educating the public, rather than enflaming their fears and assumptions.
There are a number of positive steps people - both inside and outside of the hacker community - can take to support Wikileaks and help spread information. Boycotts of companies that are trying to shut Wikileaks down can be very effective and will not win them any sympathy, as the current attacks on their websites are unfortunately doing. Mirroring Wikileaks is another excellent method of keeping the flow of information free. Communicating with friends, family, classes, workplaces, etc. is not only a way of getting the word out, but will also help to sharpen your skills in standing up for what you believe in. This is never accomplished when all one tries to do is silence one's opponent. That has not been, and never should be, the hacker way of dealing with a problem.
2600 Magazine has been publishing news, tutorials, and commentary by, about, and for the hacker community since 1984. We were sued in 2000 by the Motion Picture Association of America for linking to a website containing source code enabling Linux machines to play DVDs and thus became the first test case of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. In a similar vein, we are supporting Wikileaks by linking to their existing website through wikileaks.2600.com. We've already changed where this address points to twice as Wikileaks sites have been taken down, and will continue to ensure that this link always manages to get to wherever Wikileaks happens to be. We hope people follow that link and support the existence of Wikileaks through whatever method is being publicized on their site.
2600 MAGAZINE: THE HACKER QUARTERLY
Emmanuel Goldstein, Editor
+1 631 751 2600