A proportional response to absurdity is inevitable.
With a grand, ominous orchestral flourish and choir singing in Latin, redolent of an apocalyptic Hollywood thriller, the computerized and odd intonation begins:
Citizens of the World,
We are Anonymous.
For too long, the crimes of Wall Street bankers, CEOs, and a corrupt political system have created economic injustices that has gone unchallenged. A new civil rights movement has begun…
On October 10, NYSE shall be erased from the Internet. On October 10, expect a day that will never, ever be forgotten…
Except that this ‘we’ is not Anonymous as you know it. On October 3rd this video was posted to exhort the multitude of hacktivists loosely identifying themselves as Anonymous to “Invade Wall Street”, by coordinating distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on the New York Stock Exchange, in supposed communion with the rest of the fledgling #occupywallstreet movement. Naturally, it has its own Twitter hashtag.
It’s strange that Anonymous would be actively encouraging its kin to use a tactic – DDoS – that has clearly shown to be an extremely high risk to those who employ it.
So, what to make of #InvadeWallStreet? Those watching Anonymous closely, especially since the heady days of Operation Payback in late 2010, would argue that cooler heads (i.e seasoned hackers as opposed to script kiddies) tend to reject the idea of taking down a website with software that allows law enforcement to find your physical address like a beacon in an evening desert.
Other quarters of Anonymous baulked upon hearing the announcement.
“Operation Invade Wall Street is bullshit! It is a fake planted operation by law enforcement and cyber crime agencies in order to get you to undermine the Occupy Wall Street movement. It proposes you use depreciated tools that have known flaws such as LOIC.”
This has resulted in a somewhat comical soup of confusion on Twitter, with some advocating the planned operation, including @Anon_Central (who has over 44,000 followers) and others decrying it as a honeypot set up to target Anonymous.
The Australian, regurgitating its own Murdoch-feed via the New York Post, solemnly reported on the ‘threat’ without checking its veracity.
In an amusingly ironic celebration of circularity, the Australian sources a quote from the U.S Department of Homeland Security, who themselves also acknowledged the #InvadeWallStreet threat by giving it prominence on their “Daily Open Source Infrastructure Report” (.pdf) for October 5th – quoting the original PC Mag article, but after the latter published its correction and follow-up article.
There certainly are some gimlet-eyed analysts toiling for a crust at the DHS.
The New York Stock Exchange is of course no small potato as a target; any attempts to attack it via the web would undoubtedly be seen as an awesome act of civil disobedience by dissenting citizens, and an act of terrorism by U.S law enforcement. It may very well be the ‘digital Pearl Harbor’ that unsmiling generals have been preaching about and cybersecurity defense contractors have been praying for. If #InvadeWallStreet were to be successful, it would give the United States security-complex some especially breezy carte blanche to enact such oppressive measures as the much-maligned ‘internet kill switch’ and worse. In short, it would ‘Mubarak’ the internet for everybody.
It’s ultimately left up to the reader to figure out who could be behind such an attempt to undermine what is no doubt a burgeoning dissent movement. However, there may be a clue. On October 3rd, a day before Anonymous issued its warning to ignore the call to arms, a post of the original video appeared on Zero Hedge with a link to Project PM’s IRC channel.
“In particular, we seek to compile and disseminate information about an aspect of those capabilities we lovingly term Metal Gear, a moniker which itself entails any capability drawing on Persona Management in order to put out disinformation, infiltrate social organizations, or conduct data mining.”
The crowd-sourced journalism of Project PM is a far cry from the chest-beating orgies of DDoS that #InvadeWallStreet is so keen to align itself with. It’s curious how someone thought it makes sense to implicate them in such a hacking operation. (I’m using the word ‘curious’ very charitably.) It could be a joke. It could also be a warning unto itself.
Come October 10, you would be better off not sticking your fingers in the honeypot.