Hacktivism finally goes too far

(Updated Sept. 11, 2012, at 11 am MDT)

I have, until now, been generally supportive of the hacktivist group Anonymous. It has been easy to cheer secretly when they attack organizations I don’t like. Today, however, it appears they, or someone, attacked and knocked out GoDaddy because, according to some reports, GoDaddy supported SOPA legislation. Pied Type is not linked to GoDaddy, but my son’s small business is. And when GoDaddy went down, my son and his clients went down. Not good for the clients. Not good for the son working on tight deadlines for two different projects. The last I heard, he’d been down for five hours.

Most stories say the attack was the work of a single individual, AnonymousOwn3r, not Anonymous. I hope so, because the GoDaddy attack has affected millions of individuals and small businesses that, until now, were likely somewhat sympathetic to Anonymous. If Anonymous was responsible for this, their honeymoon is over. And if they weren’t, then AnonymousOwn3r had better have a deep, deep hole to hide in.

Something like this was probably inevitable, with Anonymous being so loosely organized and decentralized. A rogue member, or some individual seeking to emulate the Anonymous attacks, decided to take a shot at a big, high-visibility target. The attack was successful. GoDaddy went down — along with millions of their customers. The attack may also have destroyed whatever public support the Anonymous collective has enjoyed up to this point.

Update, Sept. 11: GoDaddy says the outage yesterday was an internal problem, not a hacker attack.

We have determined that the service outage was due to a series of internal network events that corrupted router data tables.

— GoDaddy interim CEO Scott Wagner

Honesty is the best policy, but it would have been tempting to blame it all on the wannabe hacker.

12 thoughts on “Hacktivism finally goes too far

  1. Thanks! I caught just the very tail end of this story on the radio so thanks for filling me in. My sites are working – but I just checked now which is the first time today. Who knows… Usually these rogue actions are due to a, well, rogue person. That was rather redundant, but you know what I mean.

    1. The majority of reports indicate this was the action of just one person. That person better be glad this ol’ mama grizzly doesn’t know where he is because he made this personal.

  2. It’s late and I’m tired so maybe it’s just foggy thinking, but I can’t think of any “freedom fighter” attacks, “hacktivist” or otherwise, that didn’t hurt at least a few “innocent” people. And I guess that’s what makes this “brave new world” such a scary place to me. I much prefered the “good old days,” when a “terrorist” had to unleash a WMD to do the kind of damage he can do with just a few well placed lines of code these days… 😕

    1. I was thinking particularly of the hacking of the Westboro Baptist Church website while they were on the radio saying it couldn’t happen. But there’s a big difference between hacking a single obscure website and bringing down millions of customers — for what? One moron’s ego trip? And yes, it is scary that one guy could do what was done today. I’m for a free and open Internet, but if hackers want it kept open just to facilitate their mischief, then they can all take a flying leap.

      1. See, I told you my thinking was foggy PT. I’d completely forgotten about that well deserved hack! 😀

        Still, they can protest all they want about the government usurping the freedom of the net, but attacks like the one that brought down GoDaddy will only inspire more of what they’re raging against…

    1. Maybe you were one of the lucky ones. I’m glad I’m not on GoDaddy. If this blog had gone down, I probably would have assumed immediately that I did something to cause it — and would have screwed something up trying to fix it.

      1. Our company uses Go Daddy servers – at first we thought the problem was the state dept. checking over seas contacts. Go Daddy was finally able to switch many hosted websites to other hosts who decided to assist (but only after people started trying to switch their domains to other companies).
        There are REAL issues with Go Daddy – their immediate knee jerk willingness to shut down anything someone has a problem with a site- not checking or considering whether the complaint is valid or not ( or just vandalism/competitors/jealousy). This attitude is not new with Go Daddy.
        There are REAL issues with the way Go Daddy makes it extremely difficult if a client decides to move a hosted site to another company. Extremely difficult is an understatement.
        Casual users probably won’t ever have these problems unless they irritate someone who wants to get revenge.
        But in any case, an attack such as the one Go Daddy suffered hurt a lot of innocent people and companies. It’s almost like a hostage situation.
        The answer? Probably hosting companies need to keep upgrading security – and keep close watch – and maybe try warning clients of disruption instead of customer service lying about it as long as possible. Honesty works better

        1. Obviously they have some really basic problems since the outage turned out to be an internal problem and not the work of hackers. As for their willingness to shut down sites based on unsubstantiated claims, that’s basically what the whole SOPA/PIPA/CISPA fight has been about. GoDaddy initially sided with the government in wanting the right to shut down sites based on unsubstantiated claims — until clients started taking their accounts elsewhere. Apparently they’ve continued their onerous policy despite dropping their public support of the legislation.

... and that's my two cents