Anonymous Targeting CloudFlare Seems To Go Against Anonymous' History

from the anonymous-is-random dept

We recently had an excellent two-part podcast discussion (Part I, Part II) with professor Gabriella Coleman, all about Anonymous, its “many faces,” and how it shifted from just being about the “lulz” into real political activism. Of course, it covered the many contradictions of Anonymous — including the idea that anyone can just declare themselves a “member” and take on whatever they want, meaning that sometimes Anonymous’ actions are self-contradictory. One faction may decide to do one thing, while another faction may disagree with it entirely. And that’s all perfectly reasonable under the banner of Anonymous. You can see that in the recent effort by Anonymous to take on ISIS with #OpISIS. Over the past few years, Anonymous certainly got plenty of attention for jumping into some fights in the Middle East, gaining plenty of attention for its attempts to aid protesters in Tunisia, which kicked off the Arab Spring.

Even so, the strategies of #OpISIS are a bit baffling, and certainly seem to go against Anonymous’ general stance in other situations. Last week, it put out a list of hosting/infrastructure companies that it claimed were hosting pro-ISIS content, with the aim of demanding such sites take down that content. One of the main targets: CloudFlare, a company that many websites (including Techdirt) use to protect against denial-of-service attacks and to generally improve reliability. CloudFlare has responded by pointing out the obvious: it makes decisions to stop serving websites based on court orders, not mob rule:

CloudFlare does not itself host the content of the websites, meaning blocking its service would not actually make the content go away. The service instead protects sites from malicious traffic and cyber threats, meaning without it websites would be more vulnerable to attacks from Anonymous.

“We’re the plumbers of the internet,” [CloudFlare founder & CEO Matthew] Prince said. “We make the pipes work but it’s not right for us to inspect what is or isn’t going through the pipes. If companies like ours or ISPs (internet service providers) start censoring there would be an uproar. It would lead us down a path of internet censors and controls akin to a country like China.”

[….]

CloudFlare has previously faced criticism for protecting websites associated with Anonymous, however Prince asserts that their service is only removed if they’re told to do so by a court of law.

“The irony is there is no organisation that we have had more requests to terminate services for than the hacking group Anonymous, including from government officials – which we have not done without following the proper legal process,” Prince said.

In other words, careful where you aim that gun, #OpISIS, because it might point back at you as well. It seems even more ironic when you realize that one of the earliest “high profile” campaigns by Anonymous was when it targeted companies like Paypal and Amazon after each made the decision to cut off Wikileaks. Thus, Operation Payback began, targeting those who chose to arbitrarily cut off Wikileaks, without waiting for any sort of official legal process.

So it seems rather bizarre and counterproductive for this particular segment of Anonymous to now be pushing for the same thing: companies to arbitrarily cut off other content, while in the past it has argued that infrastructure providers should not bow down to the opinions of a few without a legal basis. It’s fascinating that Anonymous is targeting ISIS, showing just how bizarre this world has become, but doing so by trying to pressure companies into voluntary censorship campaigns seems really counterproductive and completely contrary to the message that Anonymous has presented to the world in the past.

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Companies: cloudflare

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Comments on “Anonymous Targeting CloudFlare Seems To Go Against Anonymous' History”

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45 Comments
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The damage such agents can do is limited, as they only influence a few people. The whole thing with an anarchy is that you can lead, and/or follow different people for dealing with different issues. It is the party political and corporate organizations that are all or nothing when it come to dealing with multiple issues.

Pragmatic says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Ah, but Anonymous is a do-ocracy, which means that a few people decide to do something and a bunch of others join the bandwagon. Their decentralized nature and lack of real leadership is both a weakness and a strength; anyone can start something and persuade others to join in for the lulz or because they believe in the cause. But that’s the problem; members will follow anyone if what they propose sounds interesting enough.

That a reactionary faction is taking the lead in these activities is the problem. In a do-ocracy it’s hard to rein them in.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I'm curious: Techdirt ever had a DDOS attack?

Not necessarily. I was once a regular at 8Chan, and their Admin actively resisted dealings with Cloudflare (moved off of it, in fact, after the Snowden revelations) for this very reason (ease of NSA spying). It didn’t last long. One of their shadier boards, known as /baphomet/, pissed off some SJW twats who had previously been going at it hammer-and-tongs with GamerGate. Surprisingly, together said twats scrapped up enough money to rent time on a botnet owned by LizardSquad, a hacking group of middling infamy. 8Chan was DDOS’ed for days, and even after they moved back on Cloudflare infrastructure they were evidently helpless to prevent the attack currently in progress (though any future assaults would apparently be much more difficult).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

The phone company probably doesn’t know which people those are.

CloudFlare knows. They’ve been told repeatedly. They’ve been shown the evidence — which in some cases shows abusers protected by CloudFlare attacking other operations.

The phone company, may, in some cases, be required by regulation to offer service to all.

CloudFlare isn’t.

The phone company’s own infrastructure isn’t being abused in order to attack others.

CloudFlare’s is.

If you don’t understand that it’s the responsibility of everyone on the Internet who operates anything — from a single laptop to a massive data center — to ensure that their operation isn’t a menace to everyone else on the Internet, then you’ve failed to understand how and why the Internet exists.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

Obviously you’ve never received a malicious phone call from “Microsoft Support” telling you that your computer is full of viruses and they need to remotely access it to help you clean it…

That’s a clear example of the phone company’s infrastructure being used to attack people, and the phone company being able to do nothing about it… it’s not the phone company’s job to prevent crime from occurring on their network.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

FINE. “provides services to”. The point, which you all seem to be missing, is that they knowingly, deliberately, purposefully furnish services to the scum of the Internet, who use those services to conduct large-scale attacks on everyone else…which not only results in profits for CloudFlare, but increases demand for, gosh, what could it be? Oh yes, I remember now: DDoS protection services. Which, by a complete coincidence…

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

So it is their job to enforce who can and can’t use their service? Sorry, I would much rather that the courts determine that then the company. Look at youtube’s content filter for copyright material. It does a terrible job and the only people that suffer are the small producers. It shouldn’t be cloudfires job to remove services because what will end up happening is some service will get mistaken for an illegitimate service and be pulled down. They will make it all automatic because they aren’t going to hire people to handle it and it will make a lot of mistakes.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 CloudFlare also hosts spammers

So it is their job to enforce who can and can’t use their service?

Yes. It is. It’s EVERYONE’S job. If you think about it for a moment, you should be able to reason out that failure to perform that job — by everyone, at Internet scale — will result in an unusable Internet.

That’s why all responsible operations have terms-of-service agreements that stipulate that you can’t use their services to launch phishing attacks or brute-force ssh attacks or put up websites with malware and so on. This isn’t something unusual or difficult: we’ve known how to write those agreements and enforce them for decades.

And it doesn’t take an army of personnel, either, because — if you’re running your operation properly — then you have a working abuse@ address per RFC 2142 and you pay attention to what shows up there. The entire rest of the Internet will tell you if you have a problem and will often supply the supporting evidence for that claim in great quantity. All you have do is (a) read (b) comprehend (c) act.

Which is not only in the best interest of the entire rest of the Internet, but it’s in YOUR best interest…because if you fail to do this badly long enough, then at some point the rest of the Internet will blacklist, firewall or null-route you in order to solve their problem.

This isn’t some fine-line issue of questionable content or possibly-copyright-infringing material or something like that. Those are admittedly tough issues to resolve and I recognize that it’s really easy to get them wrong — as TD has shown over and over again. These are attacks.

(They’re not the only ones with this issue, by the way. Amazon’s public cloud is a massive source of abuse partly because of its scale but also because it’s Amazon policy to ignore all abuse reports.)

But don’t take my word for all this: LOOK IT UP. There are mailing lists and web forums and Usenet newsgroups and IRC channels which have carried extensive discussions about this.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 CloudFlare also hosts spammers

Yes. It is. It’s EVERYONE’S job. If you think about it for a moment, you should be able to reason out that failure to perform that job — by everyone, at Internet scale — will result in an unusable Internet.

When you have EVERYONE deciding what is banned from the Internet, you have an Internet devoid of content, because all content offends someone somewhere.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 CloudFlare also hosts spammers

When you have EVERYONE deciding what is banned from the Internet, you have an Internet devoid of content, because all content offends someone somewhere.

You ignorant, worthless, braindead moron: this has nothing to do with content. This has everything to do with operations. Try reading the entire thread again and see if you can’t pound that rudimentary concept into your inferior little mind.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 CloudFlare also hosts spammers

In the case of the Internet deciding who or what operations are banned from the Internet is the same as deciding what content is banned from the Internet. All major sources of content on the Internet are services, and all have people who want the shut down for one reason or another. Ban a major service, or force it to check out everybody who uses its services, and you destroy the Internet.
Cloudfare does not provide content, but rather operates a distributed caching service to speed up its delivery. Youtube does not provide content, but operates a storage and delivery system that others use to publish content. Usenet does not create content, but operates as a distributed storage and distribution system for content. WordPress operates a blogging platform. To expect these operation to police their users is to reduce their ability to support users to supporting a few thousand users who can afford the vastly increased service costs.
Operations on the Internet are close bound with content distribution, and to control operation is to indirectly control content, and to eliminate 99% of the content on the Internet.
For bonus points guess which industries would love to shutdown, or force checking of all content, onto the operation I have listed. Hint they also want ISP to monitor all users and prevent them accessing content that they do not approve of.

Anonymous Coward says:

Anonymous devolved

The reason Anonymous seems to contradict their historical past is because the nature of the beast has changed. It has devolved after becoming a victim of its own success.

Once, let’s call them, “other parties” stopped fearing the brand and began understanding the nature of it.. Abuse, in-fighting, infiltration, and misdirection became the norm.

Although, in hindsight I suppose this was the inevitable road for a decentralized collective.

There are some left dedicated to fighting the good fight. Some have burned out and others still have abandoned the cause altogether.

However, the beauty of Anonymous was never the brand but rather what it stood for – uncompromising Freedom for all people around the world.

And THAT idea is infectious as well as bulletproof.. Maybe it is time to let go of the brand in favour of the idea continuing to spread..

The name may change, the masks can be replaced, but the key to Anonymous was and always will be the idea that all people in this world deserve the right to live free from corrupt governments, tyrants, and oppression of any kind.

Anonymous Coward says:

When you consider Anonymous’ actual aims, it doesn’t really go against Anonymous history.

Anonymous’ entire shtick and function was to get noticed, and it didn’t matter how – if getting there meant stomping on and harassing anyone unfortunate enough to come across them and openly disagree with them, all the better. Anything to feed the “lulz”. If anyone feels offended by Anonymous’ sense of humor, it’s an open invitation to be tarred and feathered, under the banner of “free speech”.

Noble as it sounds, and as much as many of us hoped Anonymous could aspire to, freedom from corruption was never Anonymous’ goal. To be fair, they did have their nobler moments with regards to things like Scientology – but that was only as far as they found it interesting or funny. Make a remark that Anonymous could be taking down organizations like the RIAA from the inside, and you can expect a few retorts claiming “Anonymous isn’t your private army”. Anonymous isn’t bothered whether the people they go after qualify as acceptable targets.

Targeting Cloudflare is just another milestone in Anonymous’ history of occupying HabboHotel and putting up signs saying “the pool is closed”.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

nonymous’ entire shtick and function was to get noticed, and it didn’t matter how – if getting there meant stomping on and harassing anyone unfortunate enough to come across them and openly disagree with them, all the better. Anything to feed the “lulz”. If anyone feels offended by Anonymous’ sense of humor, it’s an open invitation to be tarred and feathered, under the banner of “free speech”.

I wonder how many people remember the early “The pool is closed” raids on child social platforms like Habbo Hotel?

GEMont (profile) says:

One good Turncoat deserves another...

I’ve often wondered how difficult it would be for the CIAFBINSA to infiltrate Anonymous and create their own cell made up of agents who posed as wannabe Anonymous kids until they were accepted by the Anonymous Crowd.

After all, it has been the standard operating procedure of the Feds to infiltrate every organization that threatens their bottom line, their national dominance, or competes with their organized crime friends’ contraband businesses.

Look what they did to NORML. Half a century of collecting money for pot legalization and they failed to do anything but make the criminal punishment for pot bigger and bigger and the laws harsher and harsher.

And all this recent scuttle-butt about decriminalization is due far more to states being nearly broke and seeing pot as a sure-fire way back to solvency, than it does with anything NORML managed to do in all those decades with all that citizen-donated wealth.

NORML had to be fully under Federal dominance and control, like just about any organization that runs contrary to the Fed’s agenda.

Why would they NOT infiltrate Anonymous?

—-

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