No. But the fear factor generated by headlines like “Home Office Website Hacked By Anonymous” will make millions panic and become (for a while) more conscious of Internet related risks and, amidst the panic, make it easy for scare mongers to boost sales of security services & software.
The Home Office acknowledged it had been the target of an online protest and the website had taken a pounding that brought it to a standstill (known as a DDoS attack) but hacked – no.
Hacked is when a site (or network) gets ‘broken into’ so to speak – to the point where confidential data becomes exposed, collected and (potentially & most likely) used malisciously. There’s a big difference between making a protest by a DDoS and a system being hacked into.
News spread over night that the group “caused a ‘denial of service’ attack, making it impossible to access the Home Office website for at least an hour”.
What is a DDoS?
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack brings a website (and/or the server) to a stand-still by flooding the website with so many requests that it can no longer respond to legitimate users.
I can, however, understand why many ran with headlines that include the words “Hacked into Home Office Website” rather than a rather wimpy “brought the home office website to a standstill” – fear sells newspapers and draws traffic to advert funded websites – as well as putting the average Internet user into a more ‘security conscious’ mode, at least for a while.
Now is the time to advertise anti-virus software, anti-spyware software and security consultation services for businesses.
I can hear the sales pitch now; “if government websites can be hacked, what you you doing to protect your network and your websites?“.
Are ‘Anonymous’ really what the headline writers want us to think they are?
What we read about the Anonymous group is often written in a tone that makes us think they are like a terrorist organisation and are “bad people doing bad things’ when, in fact (albeit very much underground and ‘anonymous’), their intentions are very similar to the ‘Occupy’ protests against capitalism, ‘big brother‘ activity and any organisation (government or private) that has high hopes of ‘controlling’ the average Joe.
Anonymous don’t seem to be in the habit of making cyber protests just for the heck of it and the DDoS attack on the Home Office website came, to many, as no surprise after last week’s announcement that the Government is planning to abuse it’s powers and monitor the emails and website visits of every person in the UK.
Anonymous say what Most of us think, right?
Although Anonymous may annoy many people when they bring a website to a crawl and, as such, their methods may not please everyone, they seem to have at the core of their ‘mission’ what many of us think.
Why should the likes of Facebook and Google have so much freedom to harvest and use data about us and why should government be allowed to do what they have spent millions prosecuting private organisations for doing – prying, monitoring (etc).
You don’t have to, necessarily, agree with everything they do in order to agree they have a good point against the UK Government!
I doubt you have heard anyone saying “I’m so pleased the government will be able to read all my emails and listen in on all my phone calls” and I doubt you (or I) ever would.
Hackers or Protestors?
Rather than call them a ‘hacker group” I prefer to refer to them as the “Anonymous Protest Group” who, from past activities, are not interested in stealing our credit card details (even though they were linked with an attack on PayPal in the past) and show no interest in what my wife is ordering from her favourite website or the emails I send to my friends…
They are very good at making a point. A point, in most cases, many of us quietly agree with but haven’t the ‘balls’ to say so.
Rattled a few cages? Yes. Ruffled a few feathers? Yes. Made a point? Definitely. Hacked into the Home Office? No.
Point made, loud and clear but no real harm done, right?
I don’t agree with everything the Anonymous ‘group’ do but I’d be more worried about an organisation (government or otherwise) with ‘big brother’ aspirations and the resources to play the lead role than I would be about a group of people who shout their protests while millions of others whisper, frown and accept it – afraid of rocking the boat.