Firing Cannons on The Internet.

GUI of the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC).

Low Orbit Ion Cannon (or LOIC), originally developed by Praetox Technologies that serves as an open source network stress testing and denial-of-service attack application(later released to the public), is a software used by the hacktivist (a computer hacker whose activity is aimed at promoting a social or political cause) group Anonymous to bring down websites of their target by launching a series of coordinated distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that floods the web servers with immense traffic and rendering the servers unavailable. Servers that suffered from DDoS were usually defaced or in its worst case scenario, have its database compromised and leaked, causing loss in profit.

Over the decades, Anonymous has done a number of attacks, significant and otherwise. Significant attacks were Operation Payback (in regards of Internet privacy, where government and corporate websites were attacked), Operation Sony (when two jailbreakers successfully ran homebrew games and Linux on the PS3 hardware were sued), Operation Megaupload (a file-sharing site shut down by an UMG lawsuit), the list goes on and on…

And dealt has been the immense damage to corporations and governments worldwide.

It [Sony] now says the data breach will result in a $170m drain, at least, on operating profits in terms of insurance and damages costs.

— BBC News, 2011

Operation Sony had undeniably, contributed to the loss of US$3.2 billion that Sony suffered in 2011 (BBC News,2011) after Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) was hacked by Anonymous and approximately 100 million users’ sensitive information (names, passwords and addresses) were compromised and part of them were leaked online by Anonymous.

anonleak
Leaked user accounts of PlayStation Network by Anonymous on Pastebin.

All these boils down to support Power R. (Editorial Director of  of the Computer Security Institute (CSI), San Francisco, CA) in which he argues in contrary to Steele’s opinion.

While Steele believes that hackers are a national resource that are often wrongly looked upon, Power believes that these people are the new enemy of the cyber world and they range from pathetic thefts to state-sponsored terrorism, and everything in between — and Anonymous is one out of of the many “everything in between”s.

To put things in perspective, Anonymous is a decentralized group of hackers that communicates mainly through the Internet Relay Chat (IRC) and they have managed to reap a big hole in a corporation’s profit and also bring down major government websites.

Now imagine what a state-sponsored terrorism could do.

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BBC News (2011). Sony forecasts annual loss of $3.2bn. [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13502529 [Accessed on 14th December, 2013]

Pastebin (2012). Sony Hacked (LEAK) Playstation Network Pwned. [Online] Available at: http://pastebin.com/hujzpaf3 [Accessed on 14th December, 2013]

PBS Frontline (n.d.) The Dangers Confronting Computer Users, Corporations and Governments. [Online] Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/risks/dangers.html [Accessed on 14th December, 2013]

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Mistreat

Well, I myself have participated in a very well attended debate on whether hackers were a national resource–which is my position–or whether they are pathological scum. I would say to you that it is the media’s fault that hackers are seen in this light. And it is the fault of the US Secret Service, and it is the fault of certain governments around the world who chose to treat hackers as a threat because they didn’t understand hackers; they didn’t understand the electronic environment that that hackers were addressing.

The bottom line is that hackers are the pioneers in this electronic frontier. They are way out in front of the rest of the world. They are seeing the dangers, the vulnerabilities, the shoddy, unethical, inappropriate business behavior by communications and computing companies. They’re basically saying, “Hey, look what we found.” And everyone wants to shoot the messenger. . . .

-Robert Steele. Founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Open Source Solutions, Inc. (OSS).

Very well said about the mistreat of hackers – that the government controls the media, and such results in, some cases, completely untrue media reports, i.e. the government only tells the story that it wants its people to believe (e.g. Bersih 2.0 news reports). Steele argued that hackers were the one responsible for finding major vulnerabilities in various computer and communications products — Microsoft and Dell as an example. But still, the majority chose to believe that hackers are criminals. Of course, once you have convinced yourself into believing something it is hard to change your own believe later own unless it’s a personal encounter. So are the people today that hold a negative opinion towards hackers, some of them stereotype, some of them, perhaps, need a little push to convince them that there are indeed White Hat hackers around us.

In Sherry Turkle’s book: The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, Turkle stated that the very first of hackers were in fact White Hat-breed, best-of-the-best MIT students that discovered that they are more than just punching cards that a computer could do. Similar to space exploration, hacking is about reaching where no one else has been before, finding new corners in cyberspace, discovering new worlds, and finding different solution.

It is a task that requires courage and creativity.

And that’s why I’m very upset that people don’t understand that hackers are, in fact, a national resource. You can’t create a hacker. Hackers are born; they are very special people. When the Israelis catch a hacker, they give him a job. When the Americans catch a hacker, they kick him in the teeth and throw him in jail. And that’s not good.

– Robert Steele.

                                                                                                                                  

Steele, R. (n.d) Are hackers outlaws or watchdogs? PBS Frontline. [Online] Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/whoare/outlaws.html [Accessed on: 1st December, 2013]

Which hat do you wear?

I believe the Internet will never be secure. But that’s okay. The real world is an insecure place. Anybody can kill anybody they wanted to. Yet we all live pretty much happy lives…
-Bruce Schneier, cryptographer and security expert.

The word “hacking” has two definitions. The first definition refers to the hobby/profession of working with computers. The second definition refers to breaking into computer systems (Internet Security Systems, n.d.). This blog explores the latter.

There are three kinds of hackers out there on the Internet: the White Hats, Black Hats, and the Grey Hats. Just as its names suggests. White Hats are computer and network experts that attack a security system as a mean to seek out vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker may exploit and reports it back to the system’s owners so that the hole could be fixed. Black Hats on the other hand, are the ones who compromises the security of a computer system without permission from an authorized party, typically with malicious intent. And the Gray Hats are those who linger between the good and evil, they don’t hack for personal gain nor intend to cripple a system or network, but there is a chance that they might/might not commit crimes during the course of their technological exploits.

And Such is the Internet: a reflection of our real world.

As the blog name suggests, this blog focuses on the White Hats — from network security experts that write firewall protocols and monitors the network constantly to protect the company’s data from malicious attacks to hacktivists that believe in certain political ends, promoting human rights, protesting against a cause. All in all, the white hats hack for a good cause, fight for liberty, and they come together with a common believe that nothing good should be exploited. And if the hackers have ever tried to tell us something over the past 10 years, it is that the emperor is naked.

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Internet Security Systems. (n.d.) Hacking. [Online] Available at: http://www.iss.net/security_center/advice/Underground/Hacking/default.htm [Accessed on: 1st December, 2013]

Charles, K. (2010) The Types of Hackers: Black Hat, White Hat or a Grey Hat Hacker, Which Type are you? [Online] Available at: http://www.examiner.com/article/the-types-of-hackers-black-hat-white-hat-or-a-grey-hat-hacker-which-type-are-you [Accessed on 1st December, 2013]

PBS Frontline. (n.d.) Interview: Bruce Schneier. [Online] Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/interviews/schneier.html [Accessed on 1st December, 2013]

Steele, R. (n.d) Are hackers outlaws or watchdogs? PBS Frontline. [Online] Available at: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/shows/hackers/whoare/outlaws.html [Accessed on: 1st December, 2013]