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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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 12:25pm

    Anyone can jump in and out of it on a whim. I wouldn't be surprised in the least if someone just decided to commandier it's name just so their home country has deniability over an illegal black op.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 12:44pm

      Re:

      You have just described the fundamental nature of anonymous, which is they are largely libertarians and true anarchists, and their basic message is to tell he government and large corporations to stop trying to control everything.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        art guerrilla (profile), 13 Apr 2015 @ 5:17pm

        Re: Re:

        what would concern me most, is anonymous being hijacked by gummint agents, more than other potential negative issues...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 6:06pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Already happened, see Lulzsec.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 2:36am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    anonymous, 13 Apr 2015 @ 12:40pm

    anonymous isn't an "organization" it's just... anonymous people.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 1:35pm

      Re:

      How can Mike not know this by now?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Mike Masnick (profile), 13 Apr 2015 @ 3:32pm

        Re: Re:

        How can Mike not know this by now?


        I do know -- and explained that in the first paragraph. But it doesn't change the fact that there are things that are *typically* views associated with Anonymous -- and this move doesn't seem to fit well with what Anonymous has done historically.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 6:10pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          The thing is, Anonymous was always about "mob rule", both the good and the bad of it. That's the nature of the beast.

          I'm...Unsure...If you quite understand that.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Pragmatic, 14 Apr 2015 @ 5:50am

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Mike Masnick (profile), 13 Apr 2015 @ 3:31pm

      Re:

      anonymous isn't an "organization" it's just... anonymous people.


      Right, as explained in the very first paragraph...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    avideogameplayer, 13 Apr 2015 @ 12:49pm

    The problem is that ISIS is a soft target...

    Never mind trying to go after targets that would really matter...

    Any government or banking institution would be too much of a long game for them...

    Anonymous turned from Hate Machine to SJWs...

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 2:06pm

      Response to: avideogameplayer on Apr 13th, 2015 @ 12:49pm

      Complete with identity politics -based on the absence of an identity

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Gladiator, 13 Apr 2015 @ 1:02pm

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

    If so, doesn't appear high up in The Google.

    And Cloudflare: do you pay it for defense, or does it pay you for the spying?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Dreddsnik, 13 Apr 2015 @ 1:16pm

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

      We need an 'Idiot' button.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 6:20pm

        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).

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    orbitalinsertion (profile), 13 Apr 2015 @ 1:05pm

    Taking down some sites of that nature won't work any better for Anonymous than it does for governments. Duh.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 1:47pm

    CloudFlare also hosts spammers

    along with phishers, domaineers, typosquatters, and other dirtbags. Of course they can choose to do that: it's not illegal. But it's unprofessional, unethical, and slimy as hell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 1:54pm

      Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

      The phone companies allow criminals, child molesters and other dirtbags to have a phone, how slimy is that?

      /rhetorical sarc

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 2:23pm

        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.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 3:01pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 11:08am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

            This just happened to my friend yesterday. She said it sounded like a Pakistani guy from his accent. And it came over a VOIP line.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 2:37am

          Re: Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

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

          They know as much as Cloudfare, a name and a billing address.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          John Fenderson (profile), 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:54am

          Re: Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

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

          Huh? Of course it is, in pretty much as many ways as the internet is.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 13 Apr 2015 @ 2:21pm

      Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

      Cloudflare doesn't host anything, so they couldn't possibly host all those nefarious people.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 2:52pm

        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...

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Gladiator, 13 Apr 2015 @ 3:05pm

          Re: Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

          >>> CloudFlare also hosts spammers
          along with phishers, domaineers, typosquatters, and other dirtbags.

          AH. Thank you. NOW I see the connection to Techdirt.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
          identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 3:12pm

          Re: Re: Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

          >>> CloudFlare also hosts spammers
          along with phishers, domaineers, typosquatters, and other dirtbags.

          AH. Thank you. NOW I see why Techdirt would use it.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 3:27pm

          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.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 3:47pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

            • identicon
              Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 2:42am

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

              reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

              • identicon
                Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 2:54am

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

                reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

                • identicon
                  Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 3:39am

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

                  reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 11:06am

      Re: CloudFlare also hosts spammers

      CloudFlare also hosts spammers

      I see you didn't bother to read the article.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 2:01pm

    As cheesy as it is, anonymous isnt an organized group, its just an idea.
    Shit in the gamergate shitstorm both sides had anonymous shitposting everywhere.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Coyne Tibbets (profile), 13 Apr 2015 @ 10:01pm

    Scary thought

    Is Anonymous, at some point in the future, going to include people dumber than Congresspeople?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 Apr 2015 @ 10:31pm

    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.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 11:10am

      Re: Anonymous devolved

      Yup, I always wonder. How far have various government spooks infiltrated the ranks of Anonymous? And how many "Anonymous" OPs are governmental entities just calling themselves Anonymous?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 8:15am

    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".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Apr 2015 @ 11:11am

      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?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    GEMont (profile), 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:48am

    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?

    ----

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 15 Apr 2015 @ 12:45pm

    Everyone can be Anonymous, even the NSA.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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