Anonymous, its strategy against censorship and the diversionary theory

Pierluigi Paganini April 05, 2012

Groups of hacktivist like Anonymous are the actual news of the global technology landscape, a new force with which and against which confront. As repeatedly stressed I consider the moment of confrontation with the group a moment of growth for the IT professional in many ways, on all:

  • having to deal with the cyber threat that requires us much thought in terms of technology with respect to the real security of the systems that surround us and exploitable vulnerabilities to offend.
  • attention often pose on delicate events suffocated by the interests of greedy governments and multinational

Obviously we are talking about a group of hackers defined by some recent reports as the most dangerous phenomena cybercriminals in recent years, underestimate it or being overcome by emotional and ideological transport is extremely dangerous

The group follows a strategy, a trend that I consider interesting to analyze without ideological preconceptions, provided a cue of interest in the current IT scenario.

  • How many people know the common censorship project of Chinese Government?
  • How many of us knew of the attempt of many Western governments as the UK to implement a monitoring and control on computer to prevent cyber terrorism?

The exploits of the team have a devastating media coverage, they are able to involve critical masses and to win the sympathies of many professionals for their ability to deal with issues otherwise intentionally concealed.

Extremely interesting is the theme discussed by the group in recent weeks, in fact, the hackers have conducted a series of attacks and have promised new states against those governments guilty of extremely stringent political control and censorship.

Specifically we discuss China and UK, and certainly disproportionate curious juxtaposition which nevertheless revives debate on how to operate properly control and monitor of the media for reasons of national security.

What is the boundary between control and censorship?

Last week Anonymous China has attacked and defaced a number of Chinese government Web sites to protest the country’s censorship of the Internet.

Anonymous China has announced on twitter the operations,

Curious note is that defaced web sites playing The Who’s classic song Baba O’Riley, the boys have good taste, all the statements on the front page were in english except a Chinese phrase that means
“A friend in need is a friend indeed.”

The message to Chinese government reads

All these years, the Chinese Communist government has subjected its People to unfair laws and unhealthy processes. Dear Chinese government, you are not infallible, today websites are hacked, tomorrow it will be your vile regime that will fall. So expect us because we do not forgive, never. What you are doing today to your Great People, tomorrow will be inflicted to you.

With no mercy.

Nothing will stop us, nor your anger nor your weapons. You do not scare us, because you cannot afraid an idea.

Message to Chinese People :

Each of you suffers from the tyranny of that regime which knows nothing about you. We are with you. With you here and now. But also tomorrow and the coming days so promising for your freedom. We will never give up. Don’t loose hope, the revolution begins in the heart. The silence of all other countries highlights the lack of democracy and justice in China. It’s unbearable. We must all fight for your freedom.

The hacks have been completed inserting a link to an Anonymous Web page published on Chinese government’s Web site that contains instructions for Chinese citizens to bypass state censorship.  Others attacks made by Anonymous have also leaked the account passwords of government workers for

The Chinese web security is not so impenetrable.

This is the biggest campaign of Anonymous targeting China despite its government is applying a fierce for a long time. Although in line with the group’s strategies sudden interest in the government of Beijing raises some doubts about the true origin of the attacks, but even more seriously the possibility that the vertices of the collective may have been ideologically conducted to attack an historic enemy, Anonymous used as a cyber weapon.

Apart from these legitimate doubts about a group of which we know far too little, it should be noted that its attacks are not limited to China but Anonymous has promised an imminent action against the United Kingdom.
A massive recruiting campaign is started on social media, a call to arm to protest the extradition of U.K. citizens to the United States. The Operation named “Operation Trial At Home,” fight the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) that could lead to the extradition of three accused criminals by the U.K.’s Home Office, the government department responsible for domestic security.

Anonymous has provided Home Office’s IP address in its announcement to the supporters, Scheduling for April 7 the a DDoS ( with denial-of-service) attacks. against the Home Office’s website.

The faces of Anonymous’ anti-extradition campaign are Gary McKinnon, Christopher Harold Tappin and Richard O’Dwyer. McKinnon, a Scottish systems administrator, was arrested in 2002 for allegedly hacking into U.S. military and NASA computers in 2001 and 2002 and deleting files and copying data. Tappin, a retired British businessman, is accused by the U.S. government of exporting materials to Iran that can be used to build surface-to-air missiles. The owner of, O’Dwyer has been charged with hosting copyrighted materials on his site; the U.S. Justice Department has been seeking his extradition since last May.

In reality I have another hypothesis regarding the announced attacks, Anonymous is studying British government infrastructures for other reason.

During last days a controversial new British legislation has been discussed on the web, it could allow the UK’s electronics intelligence agency GCHQ access in real-time data of , emails, social networks, and Web traffic and phone calls by all UK citizens.  I believe that anonymous desire to attacks the country that is considered the most supervised in the world.

The law is directly linked to the U.S.’ Patriot Act and both have the intent to ensure national security against cyber threats.

Data collected would include the time a call, email, or website was visited, the duration of which, and which websites or phone numbers were called. Details of the sender and recipient of emails, such as IP addresses, would also be collected. Everything scrap of data will be stored by ISPs, but not all of this data will be made available to GCHQ without a court order or Home Secretary-sanctioned authority.

Who can stop UK Government?

The European Commission or incursion of hacktivist?

UK Home Secretary Theresa May said

“Such data has been used in every security service terrorism investigation and 95 per cent of serious organized crime investigations over the last ten years,” she said. ”Only suspected terrorists, pedophiles or serious criminals will be investigated.”

My very personal guess is that in a coherent approach of protest, the collective can not tolerate such legislative proposals and therefore I believe it is preparing for demonstrative attacks, but Anonymous at this juncture seems to look elsewhere, it seems to advocate other causes, but why if the country in the crosshairs is always UK?
It ‘possible that the group is using a strategy of diversion to cover operations to investigate and attack structures certainly less penetrable of a website poorly managed.
Time will provide the answers to our questions … meantime we are being spied on.

Pierluigi Paganini

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