The Anonymous collective brewed up a storm over this weekend by taking aim at government websites belonging to China and England. The cells involved have been communicating via Twitter and made warning of their attacks days ahead of time. The Anonymous spokespeople involve state that China is being targeted due to oppression of free speech and other human rights violations and the UK is under fire because of a recently crafted extradition treaty.
According to the The Telegraph the attack on the UK started late Saturday evening after warnings being made the previous Monday by a Twitter account belonging to a British cell of Anonymous advertised as “#OpTrialAtHome.”
A poster featured the photos of three British citizens who have been sent to the US to face trial – Gary McKinnon, Richard O’Dwyer and Christopher Tappin – together with the slogan “Fight extradition”.
It included the address of the Home Office website and the direction to “charge ya lazers” on Saturday at 9pm GMT.
Supporters would understand this to be an order to join in a “distributed denial-of-service attack” on the website, in which thousands of computers are used to send a flood of requests to visit the victim’s homepage, causing its servers to buckle under the demand.
At the appointed hour, Anonymous Twitter feeds ordered followers to “fire your Laz0rs”, and soon reported “Tango Down” as the target was hit.
The Home Office is essentially the British version of immigration, borders, and includes similar functions to the Department of Homeland Security in the United States—but also controls extradition. As a result of recent decisions based on a controversial extradition treaty with the U.S. they’re being targeted by Anonymous collective hacktivists by way of protest.
Numerous tweets came from Twitter accounts purporting to be part of the DDoS cyberattack, as reported after the attack by The Independant:
“You should not give UK citizens to foreign countries without evidence. If an offence happened in the UK, so should the trial.”
“Why TANGO DOWN the UK govt? Proposed draconian surveillance measures in combination with continued derogation of civil liberties.”
China also in the shadow of the V for Vendetta Anonymous mask
But also on the chopping block, Chinese government websites are being targeted, and a cell of the hacktivist collective has set up a Twitter account “Anonymous China” to publicize their upcoming attacks (twitter.com/#!/AnonymousChina). The account has mentioned that it will be used to leak data, passwords, and publicize downed websites when the attacks occur.
A hacker attached to this particular Anonymous cell, f0ws3r, spoke with Reuters about the Twitter account and the planned attacks,
“First we want to alert the Chinese government that we aren’t afraid, and we are going to show the truth and fight for justice,” Anonymous hacker “f0ws3r” told Reuters.
The hacker, who declined to provide any personal details, was contacted through Anonymous China’s Twitter page. F0ws3r said the group planned more serious attacks against Chinese websites.
“Yes, we are planning more attacks, a few at a time,” f0ws3r said, adding that the plan was to take down the “Great Firewall of China”.
During their talk, F0ws3r told Reuters that the Anonymous China group consisted of 10 to 12 hackers, but most of whom would not be located in China—and that the team had “hundreds” of translators working with them in order to help compromise Chinese sites.
All of this because China is one of the most repressive information regimes in the world that controls how their citizens access Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Google and others. It has been in the news repeatedly hunting down and punishing political dissidents, arresting and imprisoning bloggers, and repressing its people’s access to information.
As we’ve seen in previous Anonymous ops, the hacktivist collective is most likely to target nation states who suppress their citizen’s ability to access the Internet and express themselves. Turkey found themselves under attack by the collective last year because of similar behavior, including cutting off and filtering the Internet to suppress political dissent.