Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Hacking Goes "American Idol" as Group Targets CIA

In a reminder of how poorly protected against cyberthreats many of our nation's most critical components are, the CIA was successfully targeted by hackers and temporarily went offline on Wednesday.

The CIA is just the latest high profile entity to be hit by the wave of DoS attacks that has ensured in the wake of the Julian Assange arrest. Most attacks of this kind have emanated from a loose-knit group known as Anonymous. However this latest attack appears to be the work of another group called Lulz Security.

Lulz is actually believed to be a more devious offshoot of Anonymous. Like Anonymous, Lulz has attacked high profile government institutions and major corporations including Sony, Nintendo, the U.S. Senate and PBS. However unlike self-proclaimed "hacktivists" Anonymous, who have never launched a for-profit attack, Lulz appear to attack for money, glory, activism and just to spy.

Lulz also seem to attack in a more sophisticated way than the Anonymous hackers. Instead of the tried and true DoS attacks, Lulz prefer to crack defenses by overwhelming websites with page requests.

Lulz has taken interactivity to a new level as well by establishing a hotline for people to call in and suggest targets to attack. A message on the group's Twitter feed was quoted as saying, "Our number literally has anywhere between five and 20 people ringing it every single second."

This definitely represents the first time hackers have gone so "American Idol" by allowing the public to have a vote in shaping their decisions on what to do next.

It remains unclear rather Lulz will really pan out to be anything more than pranksters. After all their most celebrated previous accomplishments consisted of hacking into the PBS website and posting a story that claimed Tupac Shakur was alive and living in New Zealand.

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