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Why Anonymous Can't Take Down Amazon.com 392

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the can't-imagine dept.
suraj.sun writes "The website-attacking group 'Anonymous' tried and failed to take down Amazon.com on Thursday. The group's vengeance horde quickly found out something techies have known for years: Amazon, which has built one of the world's most invincible websites, is almost impossible to crash.... Anonymous quickly figured that out. Less than an hour after setting its sights on Amazon, the group's organizers called off the attempt. 'We don't have enough forces,' they tweeted."
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Why Anonymous Can't Take Down Amazon.com

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  • FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:40PM (#34550680) Homepage Journal
    Well done anonymous, you've just handed Amazon their marketing for their hosting services for the considerable future.

    And even if you haven't, there's still a ton of suited fatcats chortling merrily about the concomitant stock price rise as they stuff their faces with expensive food and drink this holiday season.

    Y'all better step it up, or this might be your Waterloo.
    • Yeah, seriously. If there's ever been a case for the "haha" tag, this is it.

    • Re:FFS (Score:5, Funny)

      by oldspewey (1303305) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:42PM (#34550720)
      Wasn't Waterloo exactly like this, except for the fact it was completely different?
      • Re:FFS (Score:5, Funny)

        by Captain Splendid (673276) * <capsplendid@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:45PM (#34550770) Homepage Journal
        Yeah, a lot more harmonies and synthesizers, as well as a danceable beat.
      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I thought Waterloo was a water-based amusement park frequented Napoleon Bonaparte and his most excellent friends.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I think the OP is referring to the Waterloo, a model of car introduced in Uzvekia in 1915, named to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Napolean's defeat. Owned by the ruling class, it was made famous after a bloody 1916 factory riot in which the teeming mass of pre-Soviet strikers tried to push it back - to keep its driver from entering the factory, you understand. However, its powerful engine overcame them and drove on regardless. An apt analogy, IMHO.

      • by JustOK (667959)

        you're thinking of the flush toliet

      • I remember Waterloo. Saucy Ikea chicks. Thanks for bringing that up. Forgot the topic completely now. Well, better switch to wanking then he?
      • by MarkvW (1037596)

        What does ABBA have to do with this?

      • by Dogtanian (588974)

        Wasn't Waterloo exactly like this, except for the fact it was completely different?

        Not at all. At Waterloo, Napoleon did surrender- and Anonymous have met their destiny in quite a similar way.

    • Re:FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tuffy (10202) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:50PM (#34550860) Homepage Journal

      Have these guys ever disrupted any company significantly? TFA mentions they've taken down the RIAA, MPAA and Mastercard front pages, but none of those have affected their core businesses. It seems like in order to have a Waterloo, they would first need to have some real accomplishments beforehand.

      • they would first need to have some real accomplishments beforehand.

        In this day and age, it's all about column inches, innit?
      • Re:FFS (Score:4, Insightful)

        by HungryHobo (1314109) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:05PM (#34551068)

        It got the issue on the front pages again, it got lots of attention and they drew enough attention to mastercard that icelandic regulators are dragging them over the coals as to exactly why they cut off an icelandic company.

        in many ways the "hacktivism"(I know, I shudder when I use the word too) actually seems to have achieved at least as much as most regular protests.

        Trying to DDoS amazon though was always going to be like pissing at a thunder storm, you can't saturate pipes that thick with a few bored teenagers.

      • by unity100 (970058)
        they have been wreaking havoc with paypal, which pressurized paypal to come around and spill the beans saying they shut wikileaks down due to political pressure. and then they released their funds.
      • by diegocg (1680514)

        I've been told that the DDOS to Mastercard affected for a while to their 3d-secure authentication servers, ie, it stopped mastercard from being able to do online transactions, which is certainly part of their core bussiness.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by tuffy (10202)
          Is there a source for this? According to the article,

          "Mastercard and Visa's transaction networks -- which run completely independently of their websites -- were unaffected."

          • by plaukas pyragely (1630517) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:51PM (#34551828)

            We are using online payment services from SagePay in UK and almost all Mastercard transactions during the DDOS failed. Mastercard SecureCode was affected. No doubt they deny it to the press since it's quite a shame compared to Visa which had no problems with payments during DDOS.

          • by Firehed (942385)

            The 3d-secure stuff is a web-based API. I don't know the details on what the DDOS affected, but if it took down everything on Mastercard's servers, then any website which has opted into using that enhanced security tool would have either failed to make the payments or fallen back to the less secure (and far more typical) approach of skipping that step completely. Assuming sites that a) handle their own payments and b) use that extended auth system were built right, it should have degraded fairly gracefully

        • 3D-Secure is not widely used (which is probably why the authentication servers for it do not have a lot of spare power to handle an attack). Same goes for VISA's equivalent. Most security experts consider it a joke, and since it is opt-in most consumers have not bothered. It's been ages since I have seen a major ecommerce site that supported it.

          • Re:FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

            by xaxa (988988) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @06:05PM (#34553186)

            Most large British retailers use 3D Secure (or Visa's thing), in my experience.

            It annoys me -- every time I log in to my online banking I'm reminded not to put my banking passwords into other websites, but that's exactly what the 3D Secure system requires.

            • by PRMan (959735)
              Actually, they are sending you to Visa or Mastercard's servers. That's why it didn't work during the DDOS.
    • Re:FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by morgauxo (974071) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:52PM (#34550902)
      That's true. A much better strategy would be to single out Amazon's customers and target them one at a time as they probably don't have as much server resources allocated to them.
    • by Dan East (318230)

      Too bad I spent all my mod points just now.

      Regardless, the resources marshaled by Anonymous and other botnet operators reside at the farthest, smallest nodes of the internet, while the beefy commercial entities like Google and Amazon are cozied right up to the trunks and branches at the most strategic distributed locations. Due to that simple fact alone it would require a disproportionately greater amount of resources to take down one of these mammoth operations.

    • Re:FFS (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ChaosDiscord (4913) * on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:59PM (#34550982) Homepage Journal
      I can see the slogan. "Amazon.com EC2: Rock solid stability. Provided Joe Lieberman likes you."
    • by Superken7 (893292)

      Does it really matter if amazon.com goes down? Resources cost money, and if they succeeded in wasting a significant part of them (putting extra load on their servers) even if amazon stayed online... it might have been partially "successful".

      • Amazon is making money on the order of a $1M per minute at the peak. Amazon rents out Quadruple Extra Large cluster computer servers for $1.60 per hour. The cost of resources is insignificant compared to the sales. I would love to see what, if any, disturbance was actually made on the Amazon's servers. Negligible? Barely noticeable? Significant?
    • You mean their Austerlitz. Amazon is a battle lost, when a larger war is won (all the other sites they took down).

      Now everyone notices that freedom of information on the Internet is something popular enough that spontaneous unpredictable forces can be marshalled against you if you oppose the concept of freedom of information. So it figures in decision making when it comes to siding with bullshit authoritarian and corporate pronouncements about certain information being "verboten" for public consumption.

      Yes,

      • Unless all these other websites decide to hitch up with Amazon's hosting services.

        Also, you're looking at this from a technical point of view. This is as much about the media and their perception of events as it is about what machinery and software was being used.
    • by vadim_t (324782)

      I don't think it the implications are that impressive unless you're very big yourself.

      I mean, it wouldn't necessarily be a good idea to get hosting at amazon based on this. Your site might stay up, but I bet that Amazon will charge you for all that traffic, and anonymous can use quite a bit of it. So instead of your site going down you'll get a huge bill. For a small site, that's very likely to kill it. Even for a small/medium size business it could do very appreciable damage.

      This is only impressive if you

  • by Haedrian (1676506) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:45PM (#34550766)
    They used the wrong tactic. The only thing that will bring down a beast like Amazon is a hardware malfunction

    http://news.slashdot.org/story/10/12/13/1333223/Amazon-Says-Hardware-Not-Hackers-Caused-Outage

    They should be tossing hamsters or other small rodents into their server rooms. That'll show em.
  • But the collateral damage would be too high and piss off far too many other people. Plus it they would have to use a different tool.

    • by Java Pimp (98454)

      But the collateral damage would be too high and piss off far too many other people.

      Yeah that's it they're concerned about collateral damage... damned morals will get you every time!

      Plus it they would have to use a different tool.

      It's called a bunker buster...

      • Yeah that's it they're concerned about collateral damage... damned morals will get you every time!

        The masses don't have to have morals. Just the individuals in that mass who have the knowledge need to have enough intelligence to know that it might not be such a good idea.

  • by KublaiKhan (522918) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:46PM (#34550800) Homepage Journal
    Considering the volume of traffic that Amazon is designed to handle normally, it's no real surprise that an 'attack' that amounts to a slight bump in traffic for them would barely be noticed.

    Further, unlike Gawker-clan, Amazon is likely to have actual IT people working on securing their servers from just such events.

    They are a -much- harder target than most places.

    That being said, they are far from invincible. There's always a way in, and if Anonymous and allied entities really worked on it for a long time, they would likely find a way to at least deface the site.

    That would be rather beyond the usual level of patience that Anonymous exhibits, though.

    A more effective (and more 'lulzy'--hence, more interesting for Anonymous) way of 'poisoning' Amazon would be to leverage the review process, injecting more noise than signal, and thus crippling one of the key selling points that Amazon has as a purchasing platform.

    Other effective methods might be to 'punish' Amazon-affiliated sellers' websites, interfering with their ability to do business based on their association with Amazon. This might be insufficiently visible, though, unless they did so in a manner which caused many of them to complain to news organizations.

    DDoSing Amazon itself is, and has been for years, a waste of time--there's nothing that an entity like Anonymous can do to it with LOIC that they don't get on Black Friday anyway.
    • way of 'poisoning' Amazon would be to leverage the review process

      Almost impossible, since comments are meta-moderated so junk would go to the bottom, and an automated comment poster would be easily detected and blocked.

      As for punishing the affiliates, that's probably even harder than Amazon itself since there are so many...

      I was thinking the same thing about Black Friday, Amazon did go a bit slow at times then. That was probably an exiting day for IT.

  • Amazon is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) shops on the internet. They need to stand up while taking a hammering every Xmas. If anyone is going to have a superior infrastructure it will be Amazon.
    • by powerlord (28156)

      Amazon is one of the biggest (if not the biggest) shops on the internet. They need to stand up while taking a hammering every Xmas. If anyone is going to have a superior infrastructure it will be Amazon.

      I agree, however if they (or anyone else) is ever going to try this is the time.

      If their servers are already under high volume load, then you're already half-way there.

      (not that I expected them, or anyone else to be able to take down Amazon)

  • EC2 Standard On-Demand Instances Pricing
    Linux/UNIX Usage Small (Default) $0.095 per hour Windows Usage $0.13 per hour
    Features of Elastic Load Balancing
    Using Elastic Load Balancing, you can distribute incoming traffic across your Amazon EC2 instances in a single Availability Zone or multiple Availability Zones. Elastic Load Balancing automatically scales its request handling capacity in response to incoming application traffic.
    Elastic Load Balancing can detect the health of Amazon EC2 instances. When
  • "impossible" (Score:5, Insightful)

    by aBaldrich (1692238) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:50PM (#34550848)
    In the black hat jargon impossible means that nobody has done it yet.
  • by Megahard (1053072) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:50PM (#34550850)
    Death by snu-snu
  • misguided attack (Score:5, Interesting)

    by retech (1228598) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @03:53PM (#34550906)
    Dear ANON;

    Why not try a simple well organized boycott? I know, it sounds grossly old fashioned and just too far beneath your considerable talent, skill and angst. But, as you have found, these companies are actually trying to stay in business because they enjoy their revenue stream. If you could, say, interrupt that revenue you could get some attention. And it wouldn't be all negative attention. No one likes a screaming child, but they are soon forgot. A well mannered articulate child is remembered forever. The longer you can interrupt their revenue the more they're going to want to discuss this quibble. So... perhaps you may wish to think about a worldwide boycott? Try it for a day. If it's moderately successful, try it out for a week. Shut down Amazon, VISA and MC's money for a month and the entire globe will listen.
    • I rather doubt that Amazon would notice the blip in sales. There might be, to be generous, a few million Anonymous, of which only a fraction would normally be buying from Amazon on any particular day; Amazon does on the order of $50 million in sales daily.

      Any such action--unless coordinated with numerous other "legit" groups--would be lost in the noise.
    • Successful boycotts are incredibly difficult to pull off. You need to have a large mass of highly dedicated, might motivated well organized people to do it. Since Anonymous is highly decentralized, I don't think they would have the chops to do it. VISA & Mastercard pretty much control the international credit card market. Some areas just do not have alternatives. You can't ask people to give up, what they don't control.

      A well mannered articulate child is remembered forever.

      Not really. The internet is full of intelligent & articulate people that fe

      • There ARE successfull boycotts in history, for example the boycott of south african products by european customers. Brought down a whole Government.
        • by Java Pimp (98454)

          Yes but that depended on European customers initially being part of their income. The script kiddies of ANON need to be a contributing factor to Amazon's revenue stream before a boycott will even register an effect. Ceasing to do business where it was rarely done to begin with would look like business as usual to Amazon.

    • by nospam007 (722110) *

      "Why not try a simple well organized boycott?"

      Asking non reading people not to buy a book?

      As I said before, buy stuff, unpack it and return it the next day, that actually hurts if millions of people would do it.

      • Amazon sells more than just books.

        For instance, I tend to buy video games rather than books from them.

        Possibly because they keep throwing $20 gift certificates at me if I pre-order certain ($50-60) games.

    • It would seem to me that it's a bit counter-intuitive for a group who wishes to remain anonymous to give their information to these companies to let them know they're no longer willing to business because of their business practices.

      Furthermore, I'd be willing to bet a good portion of anonymous is under the age of 18, and unable to have a Visa or MC, making "protest" rather irrelevant.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Please. If these people had a lot of money, and did a lot of shopping, they probably wouldn't be huddled over a computer in their parents basement plotting DOS attacks over IRC.

    • Seem like a large number of anon are younger kids and the "basement dweller" types. They are not really the sorts who spend a lot of money and thus not the sort who matter much in terms of a boycott. I doubt they'd be noticed. In terms of organizing larger groups, good luck with that. For that you need respect which is something they sorely lack. The people who inhabit /b/ are not the sorts that most people are going to be going to for advice.

    • 4chan's "Slacktivism" efforts don't really cost the participants any money. A boycott might, as some dude in Iowa is forced to set up an account at Barnes and Noble to buy his comic books.
    • by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:52PM (#34551838) Homepage

      Why not try a simple well organized boycott?

      Good idea. That really worked with Modern Warfare [imgur.com].

  • by Rhacman (1528815) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:05PM (#34551080)
    ...for sufficiently small values of 'legion'.
  • Wrong weapon (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:07PM (#34551106) Homepage Journal
    Probably Slashdot stories about Amazon denying hosting to Wikileaks harmed more the company than the combined Anonymous attack. There is no firewall against social attacks.
    • Re:Wrong weapon (Score:5, Insightful)

      by onefriedrice (1171917) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:18PM (#34551282)

      Probably Slashdot stories about Amazon denying hosting to Wikileaks harmed more the company than the combined Anonymous attack. There is no firewall against social attacks.

      Except most people probably agree with Amazon's decision. It probably helped them. Surely you have noticed that Slashdot is not very representative of what we might call the "general population," falling somewhere to the left of where most people are, at least in the United States, Amazon's largest market.

      • Re:Wrong weapon (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Spy Handler (822350) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:37PM (#34551570) Homepage Journal

        Except most people probably agree with Amazon's decision. It probably helped them. Surely you have noticed that Slashdot is not very representative of what we might call the "general population," falling somewhere to the left of where most people are, at least in the United States, Amazon's largest market.

        I agree for the most part. However I am not sure that the /. mantra of "a US liberal would be considered a right wing fascist in Europe" is true or not... I'm starting to think that's a myth.

        Just this morning I read this story [latimes.com] about the pretty crappy way immigrants are treated in Germany. And I know for a fact that in Italy it's even worse, they are very draconian in that regard. And lately in the news are all those budget cuts in Ireland France UK and other EU countries, due to their huge government debt problem... cuts in SOCIAL BENEFITS! Reduced wealth redistribution. This is actually happening in Europe as we speak. It would be UNIMAGINABLE in the USA still, there is no way in hell there will ever be any reduction in welfare or unemployment or healthcare benefits..... at least not while Obama and Pelosi and Reid are still alive. So all in all I would say in many respects, USA is quite liberal even compared to Eurozone.

        • Re:Wrong weapon (Score:5, Interesting)

          by quanticle (843097) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:08PM (#34552150) Homepage

          ... cuts in SOCIAL BENEFITS! Reduced wealth redistribution. This is actually happening in Europe as we speak. It would be UNIMAGINABLE in the USA still, there is no way in hell there will be ever be any reduction in welfare or unemployment or healthcare benefits.... at least not while Obama and Pelosi and Reid are still alive.

          You seem to be missing how much more in social benefits Europeans get compared to Americans. Single payer healthcare. Subsidized child care. Actual pensions rather than 401(k)/IRA plans that leave the majority of your benefits to the whims of the stock market. Even with the cuts, Europeans nations redistribute significantly more wealth using these programs than America does.

          Then there's the fact that a lot of social programs that would be administered federally in Europe are administered on a state-by-state basis here in the 'States. Things like welfare and Medicaid have been hit substantially. Essentially the reason we're not seeing the federal government cut is because the responsibility for cutting has been pushed onto individual states by virtue of the balanced budget provisions in state constitutions.

        • Re:Wrong weapon (Score:4, Interesting)

          by matt4077 (581118) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @06:24PM (#34553478) Homepage
          To nitpick a bit, your idea might be true, but your arguments don't necessarily hold up. Firstly, the discrimination against immigrants is mostly a social problem, not a political one. The policies in most of Europe are quite liberal, but people seem to be racists. In the US it's the other way around (at least to a certain degree). Reasons for that might be higher experience with immigration, the diversity of immigrants to the US which makes it harder for them form communities closed to the outside, and a positive feedback loop that starts with integration (giving them jobs etc.) leading to wealth and education which then leads to even more willingness to integrate immigrants. The success in the US also seems to be highly divergent for different groups, i. e. asians are much better integrated (at least economically) than blacks, even though the former immigrated more recently and therefore had less time to adjust.

          Regarding social security, every EU country spends more (as % of GDP) than the US on welfare, thus making cuts more likely. If unemployment benefits are cut, the unemployed have to switch to cheaper cigarettes. In the US, they die. In numbers: the unemployed in Germany get 60% of their last income (67% with children) for up 36 months. After that, they get about 400$+rent+heating+ electricity. In the US it's 3x% for a few months, and apparently not even food stamps after that.
    • by Blakey Rat (99501)

      Hell, I read Slashdot and I'm firmly with Amazon on this one.

      You can't yell "freedom!" with one breath, then say, "A private company can't take us offline" in the next without being a huge hypocrite. I hate hypocrites. It doesn't matter why Amazon took the site down, or if someone else told them to, it's well-within their right to do so. You're exercising your right to freedom speech, and Amazon's exercising their right to freedom of association.

    • There is no firewall against social attacks.

      Yes, there is. It's called research, honesty and being knowledgeable about the field and about what areas you don't know much about. The problem is that these things are a lot more expensive to implement than a regular Internet firewall.

  • by mseeger (40923) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:07PM (#34551108)

    Any victory of Anonymous would have been a phyrric one. It would have alienated tons of people they can now still win over. If i try very hard, i can come up with something more stupid than attacking Amazon shortly before Christmas, but it would be quite a challenge. For >50% of all people their christmas presents are more important than the fate of Julian Assange (even if he is shot "trying to escape"). Unluckily they've got a vote too. So converting them from indifference to hostile would neither help Assange nor Wikileaks.

    CU, Martin

  • Don't forget Akamai (Score:4, Interesting)

    by GillBates0 (664202) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:12PM (#34551186) Homepage Journal

    Akamai had a role to play in the defense as well.

    http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20025477-281.html [cnet.com]

    Akamai says it can defend against Anon attacks

    Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20025477-281.html#ixzz187QnPlDV [cnet.com]
    Akamai managers say they could have bolstered the Web sites that buckled under attacks launched recently by Internet vigilantes.

    The world's largest content delivery network says it has enough servers and the right kind of network to "mitigate distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks," Neil Cohen, Akamai's senior director of product marketing told CNET. DDoS describes the practice of overwhelming a Web site with traffic so that it can't be accessed.

    Some well-known sites were the targets of DDoS attacks launched by a loosely connected group of WikiLeaks supporters who call themselves Anonymous or Anon for short. The group lashed out at companies they consider to be hostile to WikiLeaks, the service responsible for publicizing an enormous amount of classified U.S. government documents. Some of those attacked were MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, and Amazon.

    MasterCard, Visa, and PayPal stopped processing donations made to WikiLeaks while Amazon stopped hosting WikiLeaks servers. At this point it appears that Amazon was able to withstand the attack while MasterCard and Visa's sites were inaccessible for extended periods.

    Cohen said few other companies have as much experience as his with defending Web sites from this kind of threat. He said that late last month, a number of U.S. retail sites came under DDoS attack from multiple different countries. Cohen said he was unaware of who was behind it or why, but he said that Akamai helped some of the retailers withstand the onslaught of hits to their sites, which in some cases reached to 10,000 times the normal daily traffic to some of these sites. None of the sites went down, he said.

    "What we did over the last decade was built out our network and we now have 80,000 servers in 70 countries," Cohen said. "We can mitigate DDoS attacks by having a server extremely close to the court rather than try to absorb the attack in one centralized location. As an attack grows in size and distributes out to more bots, we have a server near the compromised machines. As the attack gets bigger, our network scales on demand."

    While there are reports that Anonymous is giving up on DDoS attacks related to the WikiLeaks case, it is unlikely that we've seen the end of them. In retaliation against the entertainment industry's antipiracy attempts, Anonymous knocked out the Web sites belonging to the Motion Picture Association of America, the Recording Industry Association of America, Hustler magazine, and the U.S. Copyright Office.

    Read more: http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20025477-281.html#ixzz187QiBtJU [cnet.com]

  • Not going to happen (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mullen (14656) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:12PM (#34551188)

    I worked there from 2000 - 2002 and, yes, my Amazon.com knowledge might be a little dated, I can tell you one thing about Amazon.com that was just as true today as it was 10 years ago; they don't mess around when it comes to server capacity and bandwidth.

    Their whole online infrastructure is built to handle the busiest hours of the busiest days of online Christmas shopping. Anonymous could never ever get enough people to make a noticeable dent in Amazon.com's ability to take orders.

    • by Jerrith (6472)

      Funny. I *just* went to the main amazon.com page, and after 30 seconds of waiting, when all the page (text and images) hadn't come up, I gave up and left.

      Someone seems to have done something to slow them down.

  • by Sigma 7 (266129) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:26PM (#34551408)

    Amazon stated why on their blog [amazon.com] - Wikileaks doesn't technically "own" the data, and Amazon doesn't want to be involved in distributing unauthorized material. Amazon also mentioned that there wasn't much attempt at redaction for purposes of keeping individuals safe (which is debatable). Why attack them when they aren't comfortable hosting the data?

    Also, why not extend this to attacking those who aren't willing to host the data themselves? (e.g. harass random users until they setup a mirror, or at least distribute one page of a document.)

  • by Doc Ruby (173196) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @04:33PM (#34551512) Homepage Journal

    Assange is being called a terrorist by prominent government types, and not just in the US. He's not, even if the US or other countries have laws prohibiting publishing leaked classified material - whether or not he's bound by those laws. Terrorism is an effort to make political change by credibly threatening violence, typically by actual violence followed by explicit or implied threats to repeat it. Assange does not threaten violence, and the only change his (and Wikileaks behind him) efforts try to make is to reduce secrecy. Terrorism is arguably underwritten by violence against noncombatants, and only actual state actors (and their direct partners) are exposed in these Wikileaks releases. To call Assange a terrorist for that is to call any journalist who ever publishes a secret leaked to them a terrorist, even though Assange is not as recognizable a journalist. Indeed, it's because our journalists, especially in the US, have become nearly unrecognizable as people who would tell the public what many of these leaks reveal that Assange is not as recognizable as a journalist; if "real" journalists were busier exposing America's state secrets that Americans should know about, Assange would be more clearly one of them. But then he probably wouldn't be leaking these secrets, since others would be, and he wouldn't have an audience.

    But now Anonymous "defends" Assange by actually terrorizing corporations and some (ie. Sweden and Switzerland) governments. That's terrorism: the violence and the threat (do what you did to Assange, and you get hit again) is designed to counteract the political activity that harassed Assange, which makes it equally political action - that's terrorism. Those targets might have had it coming. But now it's easy for the people calling Assange a terrorist to get people to believe it. Many won't distinguish between Assange and Anonymous; many will believe that Anonymous is really Assange; many will be unable to distinguish between "Assange the leaker" (which he isn't; he's the publisher) and "Anonymous the terrorist", especially as many think Assange is a "computer hacker" (which he isn't).

    Geeks are becoming familiar with the "Streisand effect" when some controller tries to suppress some released info, which draws attention to it. But that's closely related to the effect where Assange's "defenders" make public perception of Assange worse, because his "allies" are what Assange's enemies call him. You're known by the company you keep, and Anonymous has now made Assange known as a terrorist.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by BitZtream (692029)

      Terrorism is about causing fear to get your way.

      That doesn't imply violence, but violence is an easy way to achieve fear.

      Threatening to force someone out of their job and into financial hardship is just as much terrorism as shooting their mother, though the later is far more likely to get a response than the first, both are still terrorism even though one contains no violence.

      Its pretty easy to argue that Assange is a terrorist as he clearly is attempting to put fear into 'corrupt organizations' as he deems

  • Twitter is another one there was talk of them going for, which would have been futile. Recent data suggests that around 8% of internet users on any given day visit Twitter. Twitter is handling an average of 50000 requests/second (combined website users and API requests from programs).

    You can't DDoS a site whose normal load from its customers is orders of magnitude more than what your 500-1000 participants can generate.

    This is also why they failed to cause any serious damage to the credit card companies and

  • by Khyber (864651) <techkitsune@gmail.com> on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @05:25PM (#34552438) Homepage Journal

    They're just not smart enough to use them.

    Should have used Amazon's EC cloud to attack Amazon itself, morons.

    Classical Trojan Horse. Why bother storming the walls when once you've snuck inside you can wreak far more havoc?

    • by Doomdark (136619) on Tuesday December 14, 2010 @09:15PM (#34555470) Homepage Journal
      Should have used Amazon's EC cloud to attack Amazon itself, morons.

      Yeah, that would be REALLY cost-effective -- pay AWS for cpu time and traffic (Amazon.com itself is not within AWS realm so traffic between EC2 and Amazon.com is not free) in order to try to hurt the retail web site. Doing that would have been colossally stupid; and quite profitable for Amazon.

      I guess this is based on common mis-conception that Amazon.com itself runs on AWS systems. This is not true; ask any Amazonian and they can explain separation (which is due to historical reasons more than anything else; but there are strong security concerns too).

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