(Quite a few of you have come to me for explanation of Anonymous and OpOrlando, so this is for you.)
If you’re unaware, Orlando is currently under cyber-attack by the digital group known as Anonymous. The reason they are attacking Orlando is in protest of the recent arrests of members of a group called Food Not Bombs that feeds Orlando homeless people in downtown Orlando in violation of a city ordinance that permits only 2 events a year.
The position of Anonymous, according to their Twitter posts is that Orlando is criminally arresting these FNB members – that they should be freed because they are morally right. Feeding the homeless, according to FNB and Anonymous, is not something that can be regulated by a city government. And so, until the FNB members arrested are released, Anonymous has promised daily attacks against Orlando-based websites. FNB, by the way, condemns the attacks by Anonymous and says they distract from the real issue.
I am not blogging about whether or not I agree or disagree with Anonymous – or if I think their actions are justified. I will save that blog for when this is past; I am not going to inflame an already tense situation for the city of Orlando – for my home. What I will do, though, is give you a peek into what Anonymous is doing.
First, you have to understand how Anonymous works. Anonymous doesn’t have a leader – this hydra has no heads. It is not a government. It is not an organization. It is a group of people who call themselves Anonymous. There are no membership dues. There are no rosters. I could call myself a member of Anonymous today and deny it tomorrow – and it would be true both times. Anonymous has no official agenda because it is not a offical organization.
So, to say Anonymous is attacking Orlando means that one guy who says he is a member of Anonymous has decided to rally people together to attack Orlando websites. It isn’t sanctioned by anyone. The only affiliation and ties that Anonymous members have with each other are twitter posts and IRC channels where they tend to congregate.
So someone, probably local in the Orlando area, with some IT skills, got offended that FNB members were arrested and decided to take the fight to cyberspace. He published his intent on channel regularly visited by Anonymous folks and gathered support for an attack. he created an IRC channel for the “operation” dubbed OpOrlando and called himself Commander X. Every day, via a website and visa twitter, he publishes the targets for the day, and a link to the IRC channel for attack coordination. This is what the chatter in the IRC channel looks like. It’s an actual screenshot of the OpOrlando IRC channel:
This IRC channel is public and anyone can view it. That’s why everyone in it has a handle, or nickname. Also, the smart Anonymous member spoofs his or her IP address, or unique computer signature/location, so it cannot be traced back to him. This is surprisingly easy to do and I won’t tell you how to do it here. if you don’t know, you don;t need to know. If you do know – use it wisely.
Within this IRC channel, the Commander is nominally the leader, but there are several others with control of the Op. There are also, undoubtedly, members of the FBI, local law enforcement, and concerned Orlando business in the channel looking for clues to catch these attackers or for clues on the nature of the attack so they can combat it.
The type of attack that Anonymous is making the most use is called a Distributed Denial of Service attack, DD0S. A DDoS is where the members of Anonymous flood the target website with so much traffic that it shuts down and cannot return a response to a regular user. This effectively brings the website to its knees until the attack is halted. They do perform other attacks, but the purpose of OpOrlando is to shut down high-profile Orlando websites in an effort to make Orlando capitulate and release the FNB members. And they want to do it publicly.
To that end, Anonymous recruits people who are fairly non-technical to do the heavy lifting. Let’s call them soldiers. They are not highly trained but are rather fodder – bodies who can be thrown at the attack. All the soldiers have to do is know how to spoof their IP address to avoid detection and to download an open source network stress testing application called Low Orbit Ion Cannon. LOIC is a hacker’s tool for slamming a website with hundreds or thousands of hits at once.
If enough soldiers use LOIC at once, they can hit a website with hundreds of thousands of requests at once. This will shut down the website. The LOIC tool that Anonymous is using looks like this:
So what is the impact of OpOrlando? Why do we even care? Heck – if you live in Orlando you’re not seeing any news stories or articles on it. Why is this important?
It is important. I won’t go into the technical reasons that could impact real businesses and services in Orlando – I’m not giving Anonymous fodder to hurt the businesses in my hometown. But there is an economical impact to be considered. Orlando relies heavily on tourism and the image of Orlando. These attacks jeopardize our economy and our jobs. Ironically, this attack by Anonymous, if it adversely affects our economy enough, could create MORE homeless people.
Click HERE for a message from Anonymous to Orlando, stating their intentions. Whether you agree with them or not you have to admit it’s impressive. So, now I hope you know a little more about Anonymous and the OpOrlando cyber attack currently underway here in Orlando.
As of publication of this blog, Anonymous has managed to succesfuuly disrupt the following website:
- http://Orlandoairports.net – Orlando International Airport
- http://orlando.org – The Orlando Chamber of Commerce
- http://buddyfororlando.com – Orlando Mayor Buddy Dyers re-election site
- http://fop25.com – Fraternal Order Of Police (Orlando)
- http://downtownorlando.com – A popular site representing much of the community brand for Downtown Orlando
- http://visitorlando.com – A well trafficked site showing things to do in Orlando.
Additionally, according to a blog post by an Anonymous member, although I haven’t seen any evidence of it personally they have:
- E-Mailed millions of people with their Mickey Anon Boycott Orlando, Florida poster.
- Had Tens of thousands sign several different petitions.
- Have filled the in-boxes and fax machines across your City with tens upon tens of thousands of copies of our message.