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WikiLeaks hactivist teams change tack – become more media friendly

BBC news reports suggest that, following an unsuccessful attack on the Amazon group of sites yesterday – which reportedly failed because of Amazon's diverse internet routing policy – the Anonymous group is becoming more media-friendly in a bid to get its message across.

Representatives of the loose international group are now giving interviews to TV news channels in the UK, including Channel 4 news and BBC TV news.

The hactivists have developed a simple DDoS utility called LOIC that, when run, launches ping attacks on a selection of websites using a rotational IP strategy that changes on a regular basis, Infosecurity notes.

Although the utility is simple, it appears to have been downloaded by at least 50 000 internet users, meaning that the Anonymous group can effectively stage a botnet-style swarm attack on one or more sites at any given time.

The potential bad news for anyone downloading and using LOIC is that legal professionals have told the BBC that using the app to stage a DDoS attack would be considered a breach of the UK's Computer Misuse Act.

Struan Robertson, a legal director at UK law firm Pinsent Masons, is quoted by the BBC as saying that "downloading the [software] tools to assist in committing these attacks are themselves guilty of an offence."

One of the most in-depth interviews with Anonymous hactivists was carried overnight by the Australian Broadcasting Commission, which managed to interview 'Cold Play', one of they organisers of the group, who said that around 1000 people have been involved in the DDoS attacks in recent days.

"It involves people downloading a tool and becoming part of what's called a voluntary botnet. So they download this software and run it to allow people to control them and attack the same target at the same time", he told the Australian broadcaster.

What is interesting about the Australian, BBC and Channel 4 TV interviews is that all of the lead hactivists are keen to stress they did not take part in the DDoS attacks themselves, Infosecurity notes.

This may be a wise move, as some legal sources have said the act of staging a DDoS attack as part of the Anonymous group attack could carry a two-year prison sentence under the UK's Computer Misuse Act.

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