FBI Apparently Investigating Anonymous' 'Operation Payback' Denial Of Service Attacks

from the denial-of-denial dept

We pointed out early on that the distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on various pro-copyright organization websites was a dumb idea. Beyond just giving those organizations the ability to portray themselves as victims, you knew that it would just lead to them crying to law enforcement — and so it’s no surprise that the FBI is now investigating. I have no doubt that, at some point, they’ll find some sort of sacrificial lamb or three which will be prosecuted, and potentially sent to jail. Some believe that once a few of those folks are sent to jail, it will scare off folks involved in these attacks, but I do wonder if going after these users is actually making the same mistake: that is, it turns them into victims, and only rallies people up. The whole thing just becomes silly, with each side attacking each other, making the other side look like victims. It’s hard to get out of the cycle and focus on opportunities for moving forward. And that’s really unfortunate.

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Comments on “FBI Apparently Investigating Anonymous' 'Operation Payback' Denial Of Service Attacks”

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51 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Sad but true

“I do wonder if going after these users is actually making the same mistake: that is, it turns them into victims, and only rallies people up.”

This is only relevant in situations where these folks would have attacked AFTER they have had an unsatisfying discussion with the organizations which they eventually attacked.

Some folks were really taken by surprise and that usually causes impulsive reactions.

They knew they were doing something illegal so should not be surprised about any criminal complaints.

That’s life in the grown-up world…

The Mighty Buzzard (profile) says:

Re: Re: Sad but true

I’d rather chuckle as he’s sentenced to community service and to not operate a computer until he’s 18 (yeah, that’s enforceable).

I’ll freely admit that I break some laws routinely but I at least have the personal responsibility to take what’s coming to me if I get caught and not whine about it.

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Re: Sad but true

“I break some laws routinely “

Difficult not to.
There are those who profess laws are intentionally written such that one can not avoid violations of same. Any attempt to curtail this practice would have to address the inherent conflict of interest. For example, fines from said violations should be put in a blind trust rather than injected into the lawmaker/enforcer budgets.

Shadow Six (profile) says:

On that note

“it will scare off folks involved in these attacks” I’m really glad you brought this up. The act of “making an example” of someone in an attempt to dissuade others from following in their footsteps, is mutually exclusive to justice. In fact, it is a human rights violation, as well as a violation of public trust. Criminal justice *has to be* uniform, systemic and above all indiscriminate. When the system is used as a weapon of terror, it becomes an oppressive device that hearkens back to the iron fisted brutality of the British empire in the 1800’s.

MrWilson says:

Re: Re: On that note

“But isn’t the whole point of having punishments in the first place to deter crime?”

Not necessarily. Only according to some theories of criminal justice. You’re applying Cesare Beccaria’s assertion that punishment is for deterrence rather than retribution.

The problem is that there’s a difference between specific deterrence (the convicted criminal being deterred from committing the crime again based on his experience of the punishment) and general deterrence (in which other persons who are knowledgeable of the punishment for the crime are thus deterred from committing it in the future).

To punish someone with the purpose of deterring future action by anyone else is to punish that person for what others might do. You can’t reasonably punish one person for the hypothetical future actions of other people. Every man is liable only for his own actions. Not to mention that general deterrence doesn’t necessarily work for various reasons – not everyone knows the punishment, not everyone cares what the punishment is, not everyone thinks they’ll get caught, etc.

Only a reasonable, rational person can be sufficiently deterred by knowledge of the punishment for a crime and often times criminals are not reasonable or rational. Deterrence only works on people who already are less likely to commit a crime.

Freak says:

Re: Re: On that note

Fact of the matter is, most people in jail don’t consider the consequences of their actions. The more severe the crime, the less people who committed the crime who are in jail considered their actions.
Many studies have shown this.

So, using jail as a deterrent doesn’t work.
“AH!” you say, “But that means everyone else who didn’t commit a crime considered the consequences and decided not to!”.
If that were the case, however, we would see less crime in places where the punishment is more severe. More telling would be an increase in crime in a place where the punishment is lowered, or a decrease where the punishment is increased.
However, when the penalty drops from death to lifetime, we see a decrease in crime. AFAIK, this was no reasonable, evidence based attribution, but plenty of suggestions like a martyr motivates people, (lifetime doesn’t), glorifies crime, etc.
When some states went back to the death penalty from lifetime, we saw a reversal of the trend.

Therefore: People not in jail do not, by and by large, require deterrent. People in jail would not have been stopped by any deterrent, let alone a larger deterrent. Therefore: Using jail as a deterrent does not work.

So, with the knowledge that deterrents deter very few people, as the statistics points out, the purpose of a jail is to remove the elements of society who cannot function in society harmlessly, and attempt to rehabilitate them, (Most of the people in jail have some sort of mental disorder, and so can be successfully rehabilitated with the right services available to them. So rehabilitation efforts keep jails as empty as possible and reintroduce functional people back into society. A net gain for society).

abc gum says:

Re: Re: Re: On that note

You have several valid points, however there is one glaring error.

“most people in jail don’t consider the consequences of their actions”

There is a large percentage of inmates who agreed to a plea bargin because the consequences of not doing so were much more severe. It is possible that they did indeed consider the consequences of their actions, but not in the way you imply. Many of these people are in fact innocent of the charges. They were simply in the wrong place at the wrong time. Inadequate representation provided by the state is no match for the well funded campaign of DAs looking towards re-election.

Anonymous Coward says:

This whole DDOS attack is the wrong approach. Like you said, it gives the villains (IP maximists) an excuse to look like the victims and that’s how the MSM will portray it.

Law enforcements attempts to stop these DDOS attacks are about as futile as Anonymous’s attempts to stop IP maximists with DDOS attacks.

What we need is to march to the USPTO and congress in the millions and start demanding that they make the laws more reasonable.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“This whole file sharing is the wrong approach. Like you said, it gives the villains (IP maximists) an excuse to look like the victims and that’s how the MSM will portray it.

Law enforcements attempts to stop these file sharing are about as futile as Anonymous’s attempts to stop IP maximists with file sharing.

What we need is to march to the USPTO and congress in the millions and start demanding that they make the laws more reasonable.”

FTFY

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

While I’m not encouraging piracy I think there is a difference here.

Piracy is not (just) a means to an end, it’s an end in itself.

These DDOS attacks are being used as part of a means to an end and it’s not an effective means.

Now, granted, these IP maximists may have started it (ie: by allegedly spreading malware/trojans across file sharing networks and DDOSing them first) but the government doesn’t work for the people, the govt only works for big corporations. As such, the FBI is very unlikely to investigate the villains, only the victims. This retaliation move is a bad move because it makes the victims look less civilized (even if it is for the sake of retaliation) and it gives the villains an excuse to look like the victims.

It is sad that we’ve reached a state where the govt won’t investigate rich and powerful entities for likely doing something wrong but they will investigate those who retaliate, but I think a better approach is for us not to retaliate. Not retaliating makes it easier for us to properly identify IP maximists as the villains that break laws, the govt as the entity that doesn’t do anything about it but only serves the interests of those villains, and those resisting as the helpless victims who are too civilized to even retaliate.

out_of_the_blue says:

I bet the FBI (or some agency) already has their patsies.

Because DDOS is so ineffective and brief — yet visible — it’s more likely yet another FBI sting where an informant provides funding and plan to a bunch of idiots, who are then scooped up having been under surveillance for months.

Just the way to bet. Take the recent alleged toner bombs: MI6 (or was it MI5?) got a *tip* to search for them, likely because known well in advance. Even if not set up *by* an intelligence agency, there was and is *no* point to increasing passenger search, wasn’t at all a factor. Yet they still do it, and conspiracy-deniers have no answer to WHY?

The only constant is that with every “terrorist” incident, *you* lose another bit of your civil liberties.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

If the FBI wants to be smart about this they shouldn’t overly punish the attacker. Doing so will only make him or her appear to be a martyr and that will only exasperate the problem.

The people conducting these attacks are doing so because they think they are doing something they believe in, something they think is right. It’s like with religion, if the govt has any idea what it’s doing the last thing it wants to do is make a martyr out of anyone.

Anonymous Coward says:

still way off...

I don’t know why people can’t seem to get it… it doesn’t matter if they catch and prosecute a few “anons” because there is no anonymous organisation, and 90% of the people who participate don’t know one another, and do it for the lulz alone. If someone is prosecuted, it will just bring more lulz.
Anyone claiming to represent “anonymous” is actually only correct if they do indeed remain anonymous… it is not something anyone can stop, deter or prosecute… thats the genius of it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Snake with no head

Anonymous is a complete anomaly when it comes to law enforcement and punishment. It exists solely as a group of individuals coming together and choosing to do like-minded action.

Law enforcement and businesses will try to “cut off the head” to stop the “problem”, except that won’t work in the slightest. How are you supposed to deter a group that is created without organization, purpose or reason?

Free Capitalist (profile) says:

Good Luck With That...

I think Mike is correct that the best they hope to achieve is making an example of a couple of people they will call “organizers” or “instigators”.

Going after actors involved in an Anonymous effort is like trying to round up all the electrons involved in a single lightning strike. Even if the roundup is somehow entirely successful, the potential for another strike in “favorable” conditions would be undiminished.

Still, I agree the DDoS counter-attacks were stupid and, of course, illegal. Not to mention, to use an aging term, “weak sauce” in the spectrum of digital disobedience.

Anonymous Coward says:

If what was done was against the law, why shouldn’t they investigate? Does the police catch everyone who is speeding? Should they stop because they are just selectively enforcing the law?

Oh, and by the way, the FBI won’t punish anyone, they just investigate crimes, our justice system handles the punishment.

That being said, you never want to walk into a courtroom when the judge or prosecutor is looking to make an example or send a message to others.

TtfnJohn (profile) says:

This kind of thing, stupid as it is, seems to follow along the path of so-called anarchists in ski masks breaking store windows, toppling over mail boxes and blocking children from running their portion of the torch run as they did for a portion of it in Victoria before the Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

They come/came across as small minded naughty brats rather than someone with a real political or social agenda, taking attention away from their issues and focusing it on themselves.

In this case they’ve certainly managed that and have made these places more than able to play the “victim” card.

If the FBI can find two or three members of this group to trot into court and get them sentenced to any kind of jail term what these people do know is that they will play it up as martyrdom so they can attract a few other script kiddies to their cause.

As has been noted DDoS attacks are transitory at best and almost unnoticeable at worst where a site has taken half way decent security measures.

In many ways it’s just better to leave them alone because all they’ve done is allow the sites they took down to play the “victim” card and pissed off those of us who just might, otherwise, have supported their point of view.

Lose/Lose all around.

Difference says:

What's the difference?

What’s the difference between an e-protest like Operation Payback and conventional protests like demonstrating in front of buildings? Demonstrations in front of buildings are in a way also denial of service attacks.

I also wonder, if you can really find anyone guilty for taking down these sites, because no single participant took down anything on their own.

> “I have no doubt that, at some point, they’ll find some sort of sacrificial lamb or three which will be prosecuted”

You’re probably right, and when the time comes, I’ll gladly donate towards their defense.

darryl says:

Criminal Act - - And Dumb Act -

Its a DUMB IDEA is you have the idea to perform a DDoS, its a CRIMINAL ACT if you actually launch a DDoS attack.

Its a dumb idea to rob a bank, its a criminal act to rob a bank.

Its a dumb idea to kill someone, its a criminal act to kill someone..

So, he is not being investigated fora “dumb idea” he is being investigated for performing a criminal act.

Yes Mike, thats the way !!!

Sure they have only done it once, so if we leave them alone hopefully they will not do it again.

But if you try to find them, they will be sure to do it again.

So using that logic, why bother trying to enforce any law, sure he killed someone, but if we leave him alone, he might not do it again.

(But probably will considing his record for killing).

So all Mike can propose, is “leave them alone” ‘ignore them and they MIGHT go away’.

But upset them, and they will FIGHT the FBI !!!! yea right..

Its funny to read you’re very simplistic world view Mike, its like reading what a small child would right. Lots of good intentions, but NOT A CLUE about the real world.

You Mike are like the little kid saying “wouldn’t be good if money grows on trees”.
And dreaming away about how you could get whatever you like..

But failing to see that if money did grow on tree, money would have no value, and you could not buy whatever you wanted.

Its sad that you are so nieve in the real world.

So, Sure, we’ll just ignore them, and hope they will go away.

I also like you child like view that a DDoS attack “is a dumb idea”.

No Mike, IT IS A CRIMINAL ACT, espionage, theft, or the loss of life could happen due to a DDoS.

So sure, if you consider possibly murder as a “dumb idea” you are right. but it is a hell of alot more than just a “dumb idea”.

Allthoug I have to conceed that ‘dumb idea’s’s is an area you have hight expertise in..

RST101 (profile) says:

Reading all these comments thee is an awful lot of punishing going on but one thing you all fail to realise is these ddosers don’t even live on your land, the good ol U.S. of A, so how can the fbi punish these peole.

U.S.A should be cut off from the rest of the world, who the fcuk do they think they are with their world police attitude.

CUT THE FOOKERS OFF!

anonymous says:

yeah the problem is the corporate lobbyists bought our “representation”, bought our judges, bought our laws, and own the media. so “big content” owns all legitimate forms of debate, whether legal, or public. ddos isnt the end all, but its better than a lame protest. u gonna stand in the cold and be ignored? cuz last time i checked, operation payback ruined that dbag andrew crossley and acs law, as well as killing the ministry of sound lawsuits, and just generally making ISP’s scared to toss around customer info, so yeah. so u can go “vote” and “protest” AKA beg the enemy to stop attacking you, or you can fight back. remember, the laws, the real world, thats theirs. you dont fight a stronger enemy on their terms. DUH. make em fight guerrilla style in the interwebs, where we are strong, and their corrupt laws and armed g men mean nothing.

Also, remember to vote with your wallets people, forget the ballot, the bottom line is all that matters to these people. cut off their funds and they wont have the money to buy america and attack its citizens anymore.

StarvingBum says:

Legislation

Actually now a days if they really wanted to they could charge all with terrorism. I believe it was around the time president bush was elected he signed a bill that allowed attacks like ddos attacks to be considered an act of terrorism. This is no laughing matter when the law wants to set an example my god my god do they choose the worst possible punishment. This is 10 Years in prison. Someone is going to get 10 Years of what we would all call “extreme sexual harassment”. This is not worth it you guys. If I were government I’d be asking for help from outside sources like CDC Communications. This can’t continue.

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