Anonymous’ army of hacktivists have changed tactics in what some are calling an attempt to trick people into participating in distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks.
A round of DDoS attacks Thursday were launched in retaliation for the federal crackdown on Megaupload, a popular file-sharing site sometimes used to distribute pirated material. Law enforcement officials from the United States and other countries moved against a number of people Thursday that were named in an indictment returned earlier this month in federal court in Virginia. The indictment names seven men and two corporations – Megaupload Limited and Vestor Limited – and accuses them of engaging in a racketeering conspiracy, conspiring to commit copyright infringement, conspiring to commit money laundering and two substantive counts of criminal copyright infringement.
In response to the crackdown, Anonymous launched attacks against websites belonging to the U.S. Department of Justice, FBI, Recording Industry Association of America and others.
“In the past, Anonymous has encouraged supporters to install a program called LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) which allows computers to join in an attack on a particular website, blasting it with unwanted traffic,” Sophos Senior Technology Consultant Graham Cluley noted in a blog post. “This time, things are slightly different: you only have to click on a web link to launch a DDoS attack.”
According to Cluley, members of Anonymous used Twitter to post links that, when clicked, automatically made people part of an attack.
Cluley argued the change in tactics might be because it could allow anyone prosecuted to claim they were unknowing participants. In late 2010 and throughout 2011, several hacktivists associated with Anonymous were arrested around the world.
“Don’t forget, denial-of-service attacks are illegal,” he wrote. “If you participate in such an attack you could find yourself receiving a lengthy jail sentences.”