According to a video posted to YouTube on January 23, 2012, the faceless “hacktivist” group Anonymous promises to crash Facebook in a concerted attack on January 28, 2012 at 12 AM Eastern Standard Time.
Anonymous is not alone in raising concerns over government interference on Internet commerce. Protests against proposed legislation to target websites infringing on intellectual property and e-commerce have surged. The Protect IPA Act (full name: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act) and its companion, the proposed Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA, have triggered online petitions, protests and even temporary blackouts of sites such as Google and Wikipedia.
Anonymous takes these protests a step farther, though, in declaring a “cyberwar” against a long list of sites, including CBS.com and some sites maintained by the FBI. Now Anonymous has Facebook in the crosshairs, urging its viewers to to download an application called the Low Orbit Ion Cannon and follow the directions on the video to target Facebook at the designated time. Although Facebook has over 60,000 servers, Anonymous reassures viewers that crashing the popular social networking site “can be done.”
Why Facebook? The video remains silent on this point. Chris Matyszczyk, a blogger for CNet, observes that “the video seems to simply align Facebook with the government,” possibly because of its belated opposition to SOPA.
“Anonymous” is an Internet meme that originated in 2003, describing the concept of many internet users acting simultaneously in a coordinated manner. More recently, the name has been claimed by those opposed to government restrictions on internet content and commerce. Because its originators are unknown, speculation, rumor and false stories swirl on the internet about its plans and targets.
ZDNet blogger Emil Protalinski notes that Internet rumors claimed that Anonymous had scheduled attacks on Facebook twice before. The recent surge of pornographic and violent images posted to Facebook were believed to be the work of Anonymous, but the group never claimed responsibility. Still, according to Protalinski, “this appears to be a legitimate call to arms.” And, he points out, “with Anonymous, you just never know.”
This rise in hacktivism is definitely spurring enrollment for students interested in cyber security degree programs. In addition to students being interested so are companies that are trying to hire professional in cyber security technology and research. In the last year alone the Cyber Security job outlook has literally gone straight up with more and more jobs becoming available to people with the right degrees and certifications. Some security experts even think that within Anonymous lies many cyber security experts that work in Anonymous by night and cyber security careers by day!