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Britain's GCHQ Attacked Anonymous Supporters With DDoS 133

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the something-about-watching-watchers dept.
An anonymous reader writes "NBC News reports that, during a 2012 NSA conference called SIGDEV, GCHQ's Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group bragged about using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks against members of Anonymous during an operation called Rolling Thunder in 2011 (there is evidence that says it was a SYN flood, so technically it was a simple DoS attack). Regular citizens would face 10 years in prison and enormous fines for committing a DoS / DDoS attack. The same applies if they encouraged or assisted in one. But if you work in the government, it seems like you're an exception to the rule."
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Britain's GCHQ Attacked Anonymous Supporters With DDoS

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  • by korbulon (2792438) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:53AM (#46161653)
    ...No, I got nothing.
    • by TWiTfan (2887093)

      But they're trying to stop T E R R O R I S T S ! ! !

      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:27AM (#46161929)

        But they're trying to stop T E R R O R I S T S ! ! !

        Protesters are not terrorists. Sadly our governments don't make that distinction.

      • But they're trying to stop the hacker group Anonymous

        FTFY

      • by emagery (914122) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @01:06PM (#46163485)
        While I understand I am replying to a point of sarcasm, nethertheless we really should invest some time in using words correctly. Terrorists user terror to achieve a goal. Period. Activists use activism to achieve a goal. Vigilanteism may or may not use terror, but it is using directed force (of one form or another) to achieve a goal (in this case, hacking deleterious services in the name of 'justice' as understood by those engaging in it.) Whether justified or not or misdirected or not, it's not terrorism unless the force being applied is terror, and that does not accurately describe anonymous. Tangentially, I wish we'd do the same with words like LIBERAL (to behave permissively) vs. AUTHORITARIAN (to behave restrictively) or CONSERVATIVE (to resist change) vs. PROGRESSIVE (to seek change.) In all cases, the context is what's most important. Are you permissive toward personal in-home nondangerous lifestyles? Well, then you're socially liberal and probably democratic (party) leaning. Are you permissive towards gigantocorporations buying legislation and dumping toxins into water supplies on the cheap? Then you're corporately (neo) liberal. Hell, you have to be both liberal (towards individuals) and authoritarian (toward those arguing to take personal liberties away) to achieve and end... so I guess using D(D)oS against D(D)oSers almost makes sense. MEH! I just wish people would be simple and clear about the labels we through around and understand them in contexts.
      • by gweihir (88907)

        By becoming terrorist themselves? How is that going to work?

    • it's only a matter of time before they're used...needed or not.

  • In other news... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @09:58AM (#46161697)

    In other news, the UK military can drive tanks, fire missiles & carry weapons - but regular citizens cannot.

    It's all about oversight, not an attitude of "why can't we legally do this too?".

    • by rossdee (243626)

      In the US citizens can carry weapons, but firing missiles is not allowed.

      And as for driving tanks, well if you count SUV's then yes, but the armor plated, tracked vehicles with cannon in the turret aren't allowed.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Actually, private citizens are permitted to own tanks in the USA. Lots of paperwork, security checks, and some sort of license is required. All "guns" must be inoperable.

        • Actually, private citizens are permitted to own tanks in the USA. Lots of paperwork, security checks, and some sort of license is required. All "guns" must be inoperable.

          You can have tanks in the UK too.

          Ross Noble has a tank – or more accurately an Abbott 433 self-propelled gun – which he brought from a website called Tanks A Lot. 'What's amazing is that you don't have to pay the Congestion Charge,' he told Richard Herring on his Leicester Square Theatre podcast released this week. 'There are no rules about it,' he added. 'The guns are deactivated now, but if they worked, from where I live now, I could hit Gatwick. That's not a threat. That REALLY isn't a threat. But I tell you what, the badger cull in our village is going well. I got the fucking lot...'

          http://www.chortle.co.uk/news/2013/11/15/19063/ross_noble%3A_tank_commander

          I think he talks about it here but I'm at work so I can't really check. http://www.topgear.com/uk/vide... [topgear.com]

        • by modecx (130548)

          There's no paperwork or 'security check' outside title work, and whatever else goes on down at the DMV which would preclude an individual from owning tanks that might be light enough for operation on the road. They just have to have headlights and signals like any other vehicle. I suppose if it's heavy enough you might need a commercial / heavy vehicle driver's license. If you want to operate it on private property, you certianly wouldn't need any of that.

          All "guns" must be inoperable.

          That's where you need

      • That's because in the US people are citizens, in the UK they are subjects.

        Also it is legal to own and drive tanks both in the United States and the UK, and there is a community of hobbyists in England who purchase old Soviet armored equipment and restore it to drive to meets just as though they were participating in an antique car club. The machine guns/cannon have to be disabled though unless you live in the US and have the proper permits.

        Tanks have padded tracks so they actually don't damage roads as muc

        • by DjReagan (143826)

          > That's because in the US people are citizens, in the UK they are subjects.

          This isn't true for most people in the UK for the last 30 years.
          See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

        • That's because in the US people are citizens, in the UK they are subjects.

          You're a little behind the times, US people are subjects now, too.. Our 238 year old Constitution has been run thru the shredder by the last several administrations and many of us are sick and tired of it...

        • That's because in the US people are citizens, in the UK they are subjects.

          Not what it says on my passport...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by AmiMoJo (196126) *

      The military can only use those weapons against other militarys and with direct authorization from the government. GCHQ feels it can use cyberattacks against citizens who had no, at the time, been convicted of or even charged with any sort of crime, with no oversight or authorization.

      At most the Anonymous DDOS attacks were a criminal matter for the police, not national security or warfare.

    • by gweihir (88907)

      Fundamentally broken analogy.

      What matters is the target and the type of damage/injury done. Without an emergency, the military is certainly not allowed to drive tanks through citizen's houses, fire missiles at civilian airplanes or shoot people with the weapons they carry. And after that emergency, there better be a damn careful investigation.

      However, in a police-state that investigation gets more and more meaningless and eventually anybody on the side of the government can declare any emergency they want,

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Police are allowed to do many things in their duty that non-police aren't allowed to do.

    Can it not be argued that GCHQ is also allowed to do many things in their duty that non-GCHQ folk aren't allowed to do.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lawrence_Bird (67278)

      The police are not permitted to intentionally harrass or harm persons and property unless directly threatened.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sl4shd0rk (755837)

        The police are not permitted

        False. What we are finding is that a badge and gun are all the permit needed.

        • by rwise2112 (648849)

          The police are not permitted

          False. What we are finding is that a badge and gun are all the permit needed.

          Badges? We don't need no stinking badges!

        • why is this being modded troll? Tis unfortunately true. civil forfeiture for example.
      • by Thanshin (1188877)

        The police are not permitted to intentionally harrass or harm persons and property unless directly threatened.

        That depends if you define "permitted" there as "sanctioned" or as "allowed".

      • by Anonymous Coward

        You're kidding right? Heard of stop and frisk which occurs in most major cities in the USA not just NYC? It's standard behavior.

    • by xelah (176252)
      Indeed it can be argued - but there still needs to be a law saying they can. A law subject to democratic (well, ish) and judicial oversight, a law that everyone can see and argue over.
  • by Megol (3135005) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:00AM (#46161703)
    To the police that is? That government agents (no not only the 007 kind) tend to overstep their authorities and commit crimes from time to time isn't that uncommon or even strange (even a government consists of people after all) but the solution to that is to report the event to police and let the legal system handle it. And hope the guilty are punished, sadly that isn't certain...
    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Annoyingly, laws apply to us, and not them.

      Things we aren't allowed to do they can say they're doing for Perfectly Good Reasons.

      Essentially they get to give themselves a free pass and do this kind of stuff.

      Increasingly, law enforcement everywhere in the so-called 'free world' is deciding that the rule of law is too inconvenient and skirt around it if it suits them.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      An Intelligence Officer is a criminal with a badge that makes it "ok". Seriously, it is their job to go into other countries and break their laws in order to gain information.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It can levy taxes, print money, jail people involuntarily, declare war, kill people , etc.

  • Who will win in the end? Stay tuned!

    • by gstoddart (321705)

      Who will win in the end? Stay tuned!

      Fascism and the police state.

      We all lose.

      • by gweihir (88907)

        And this time, there will not be anybody from the outside to remove the government. That means the USSR-Model, where after decades of totalitarianism, one mole with a vision makes it into the government, or the North Korea model, where that does not happen for a long, long, long time.

  • by pigsycyberbully (3450203) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:03AM (#46161745) Homepage
    http://pigs-at-gchq.com/ [pigs-at-gchq.com] Do laws matter? When all agree to abide by a law it is called a social contract in English. “An agreement among the members of a society to cooperate for mutual social benefits, by safeguarding individual freedom for state protection.” The Oxford dictionary puts it this way: “Agreement among the members of a society or between a society and its rulers about the rights and duties of each.” The U.K. and the U.S. authorities have broken this agreement so badly in so many different ways that the future is not looking very good. Until they agree to keep within this social contract I will simply tell them at every opportunity to fuck off. Hope you do the same.
    • Anonymous had already broken the social contract. You seem to be silent on that. Do you also complain about the police breaking the social contract for using force?

      • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:35AM (#46162003) Homepage

        Anonymous had already broken the social contract.

        I believe you'll find Anonymous is breaking the social contract because governments have already done so.

        You've completely missed the part where the GP said:

        "Agreement among the members of a society or between a society and its rulers about the rights and duties of each." The U.K. and the U.S. authorities have broken this agreement so badly in so many different ways that the future is not looking very good.

        I find it difficult to disagree with the notion that the governments have already broken the social contract, and Anonymous is a reaction to that.

        I don't necessarily agree with everything Anonymous does -- but I sure as hell understand the reason for them existing. When your rulers are unjust, you have little recourse except to break the social contract as well.

        That those same unjust governments decide that gives them free reign to continue to be unjust is just more of the same.

        • by cold fjord (826450) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @11:41AM (#46162635)

          I believe you'll find Anonymous is breaking the social contract because governments have already done so.

          Perhaps you could explain then how attacking random people and corporations is a useful reaction? Anonymous aren't out to "enforce" the social contract but for "lulz" or to satisfy their pique. They are cyber vandals, little more. Anonymous is no more justified in most of what they do than most any other vigilante group.

          I don't necessarily agree with everything Anonymous does -- but I sure as hell understand the reason for them existing. When your rulers are unjust, you have little recourse except to break the social contract as well.

          Then you basically negate the social contract entirely since there will always be someone or some group that can claim that they have been treated unfairly, and we now move to the realm of vigilantes. I don't see them fighting for noble causes in the case of genuine oppression so much as petty grievances and fringe causes. They vandalize over the irk of the hour despite their noble claims.

          You will notice that they are heavily active in Western democracies which have many rights guarantees, social safety nets, and little or no meaningful political oppression. Perhaps you can tell us, what country would they not vandalize? Where can we find an order so universally just and beyond reproach from every viewpoint, including the insane, juvenile, or foreign, that it cannot be assailed?

          They neither support nor enforce the social contract, they undermine it.

          • by Pav (4298) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @03:47PM (#46165125)
            ...and we all know the vastly less powerful are equally morally culpable. That's why bombing illiterate goat herding religious nuts is also universally accepted as the epitome of Great Justice. Just replace "angry citizen" in this analogy... how could anyone fail to see?
      • Anonymous had already broken the social contract.

        In the game of 'tit for tat', it's a matter of who drew first blood.

      • by umghhh (965931)
        So if a system evolves from kind of democratic and respecting human rights into police state and we lose all the control possibility we should just agree with this and silently protest? Maybe we should. Gandhi did that after he found out military response to British rule is pointless. OC problem here is that oppressors are difficult to send away as they live among us. Another thing is - government agencies doing things that other cannot, operate under specific rules that are there to ensure no violations oc
    • by gweihir (88907)

      Indeed. The main characteristic of a police state is that the duties of government and its agents go away and the rights of the citizens do the same. There is no mutual benefit left in the end. A police state corrupts "the law" and it becomes completely unsuitable to judge right and wrong. (Not that it is very useful for that in the best of circumstances...)

  • And there's already a comment there: http://blog.erratasec.com/2014... [erratasec.com]
  • . . . I'm totally down with it.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I know DDoS attacks against IRC servers aren't uncommon...

    But we're talking about an IRC server being DDoS'd by a security agency.

    A place where people go to talk (regardless of how affiliated they are with Anonymous or not.)

    So I'm guessing this means that Freedom of Speech no longer means shit the fascists in charge.

    • So I'm guessing this means that Freedom of Speech no longer means shit the fascists in charge.

      Are you implying that it ever did? The American's 1st Amendment didn't even survive a full decade before being rendered toothless 216 years ago.

  • This was the first DOS attack I ever heard of. Used against Panix (ISP in NY) back in the day. Now most systems (Linux kerel, etc) are hardened against syn floods.

    Primitive.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      DDoS/DoS CAN be stopped (Microsoft & Amazon are setup PERFECTLY vs. it in fact, read on below on that note)!

      ---

      Microsoft Windows NT-based OS settings vs. DoS:

      Protect Against SYN Attacks

      FROM -> http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-u... [microsoft.com]

      A SYN attack exploits a vulnerability in the TCP/IP connection establishment mechanism. To mount a SYN flood attack, an attacker uses a program to send a flood of TCP SYN requests to fill the pending connection queue on the server. This prevents other users from establishing net

  • Does this have anything to do with why FreeNode IRC was being DoS attacked a couple days ago?

  • ABOVE THE LAW
    • by Anonymous Coward

      ABOVE THE LAW

      Time for a new Magna Carta. Next time, restrict both the king and the government action against the people by recognizing the universal truth of freedom.

      The problem is in thinking there are no such things as rights, only permissions. No freedom of speech, only permission? This is ignorance of the highest degree. In the absence of all laws there is total freedom: Any action can yield any reaction. Laws restrict the fundamental freedom granted to intelligent forms by the nature of the universe itself thr

    • by Burz (138833)

      POLICE STATE

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Sure, they probably won't go anywhere, but it'll still be good to have it on public record that the government refuses to prosecute its own agency's crimes.

  • by gmuslera (3436) on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @10:46AM (#46162103) Homepage Journal
    Wasn't just the Anonymous group the attacked ones, but other people that wanted to stay anonymous too, like political dissidents and others. Is not the War on Anonymous [nbcnews.com], but the war on anonymous, privacy and anonymity is becoming outlawed (except for them, of course)
  • Am I the only one amused that the spooks have the basement-dwellers a taste of their own medicine?

    • by PerlPunk (548551)

      No, you aren't.

    • You shouldn't be.

      Granted those Anon members might have gotten what they deserved -- but government/police/military etc is never, ever (ever) the appropriate agent for 'vengeance'. Because at the end of the day, it's really quite arbitrary who is offended by what, thus a slippery slope is created.

      Example.. one day the police use excessive force against a terrorist or pedophile, and that's applauded -- who's to say they won't then go and use such methods on suspects ranging from ... jaywalkers on up?

  • by Walterk (124748) <dublet@[ ].org ['acm' in gap]> on Wednesday February 05, 2014 @11:48AM (#46162705) Homepage Journal
    and he mentioned something about ethics of policing [wikipedia.org]*.
    1. To prevent crime and disorder, as an alternative to their repression by military force and severity of legal punishment.
    2. To recognise always that the power of the police to fulfil their functions and duties is dependent on public approval of their existence, actions and behaviour and on their ability to secure and maintain public respect.
    3. To recognise always that to secure and maintain the respect and approval of the public means also the securing of the willing co-operation of the public in the task of securing observance of laws.
    4. To recognise always that the extent to which the co-operation of the public can be secured diminishes proportionately the necessity of the use of physical force and compulsion for achieving police objectives.
    5. To seek and preserve public favour, not by pandering to public opinion; but by constantly demonstrating absolutely impartial service to law, in complete independence of policy, and without regard to the justice or injustice of the substance of individual laws, by ready offering of individual service and friendship to all members of the public without regard to their wealth or social standing, by ready exercise of courtesy and friendly good humour; and by ready offering of individual sacrifice in protecting and preserving life.
    6. To use physical force only when the exercise of persuasion, advice and warning is found to be insufficient to obtain public co-operation to an extent necessary to secure observance of law or to restore order, and to use only the minimum degree of physical force which is necessary on any particular occasion for achieving a police objective.
    7. To maintain at all times a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the police are the public and that the public are the police, the police being only members of the public who are paid to give full time attention to duties which are incumbent on every citizen in the interests of community welfare and existence.
    8. To recognise always the need for strict adherence to police-executive functions, and to refrain from even seeming to usurp the powers of the judiciary of avenging individuals or the State, and of authoritatively judging guilt and punishing the guilty.
    9. To recognise always that the test of police efficiency is the absence of crime and disorder, and not the visible evidence of police action in dealing with them.

    *: I did try and warn him about the future [xkcd.com] but he said he had to rush off to do some shopping..

  • Anonymous factions DoS each other all the time for fun and practice. They are fairly good at working around it.

  • The GCHQ are the GOOD guys, remember? As such why should they be hamstrung by the rules and laws that criminals follow?

    Why wouldn't we want to give them those advantages do we want them to do their jobs or don't we?

Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig. -- Lazarus Long, "Time Enough for Love"

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