Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN) is down for the fifth straight day, and there is no word on when it will become operational again. Earlier, we reported that PSN and Qriocity were pulled down by Sony due to “external intrusion”. In a sparsely worded update, Sony’s Patrick Seybold wrote, “We sincerely regret that PlayStation Network and Qriocity services have been suspended, and we are working around the clock to bring them both back online”.
While Sony didn’t divulge any specifics, it did state that it is working on re-building the system to further strengthen its network infrastructure. The simple fact that Sony chose to suspend its services, instead of restoring the services as it is, and working on beefing up security in the background, suggests that the intrusion was quite severe. The big question is exactly what kind of information, if any, did the hackers manage to get hold of. The PSN is an online multiplayer gaming, and content distribution service that is an integral part of the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable (PSP) experience. Many customers have sensitive information like credit card details. Unconfirmed reports suggest that admin dev accounts were breached. Understandably, Sony is remaining tightlilpped about the nature and the extent of the intrusion. Hopefully, once it manages to get PSN and Qriocity back online, it will share more details. For now, the only thing that we can do is wait.
A couple of days back, Sony’s PlayStation Network and Qriocity services went offline without any prior notice. Immediately speculation began to mount that “Anonymous”, an infamous band of hacktivists, had succeeded in hacking the PSN. Anonymous had earlier taken issue with Sony’s strong stance against jailbreaking of the PS3, and the treatment meted to Geohot. It had threatened to fight back against Sony. However, after initially causing intermittent outages of PSN, Anon decided to stop its attempts to knock out the PSN, in order to avoid inconveniencing users.
Now, Sony has finally broken its silence, and has confirmed that the PlayStation Network and Qriocity were taken offline due to “an external intrusion”. Anonymous has, however, distanced itself from the hacking of the PSN through its press release titled “For Once We Didn’t Do It”. The release states that, “While it is possible that other Anons have acted by themselves, AnonOps was not related to this incident and does not take responsibility for whatever has happened”.
Irrespestive of the cause of the outage, this is bad news for gamers all over the world. Sony hasn’t clarified how long the outages are likely to continue; however, there is a good chance that the services will not be restored within the next couple of days. This means that PS3 owners are going to have a long weekend.
HBGary, the much talked about mastermind behind government funded rootkit projects was hacked and defaced by Anonymous, the most notorious faction on the Internet. This defacement was a result of an arrogant claim of knowing the identities of Anonymous members, as made by Greg Hoglund.
It has recently come to light that one of the people involved in Anonymous is actually a girl, in her teens and working in a salon part time. This is a matter of utmost shame for the organization that once claimed to have developed a rootkit, which goes undetected by any Antivirus.
Forbes had an exclusive with Kayla, the girl in question. She is extremely secretive about her identities and takes the utmost care to clean her tracks. These facts will outline how seriously she takes her security and privacy.
With just half a dozen close friends online, she has a strict regimen to remain invisible on the web. Each night she wipes every one of her web accounts and deletes every email in her inbox. She has no physical hard drive and boots her computer from a microSD card. I could hide this card anywhere or chew into a million pieces in a few seconds,she says by e-mail. She keeps her operating system on a USB stick and uses a virtual machine (VM) to carry out her online shenanigans.
This same girl Kayla, is also said to have hacked the 4chan forum once with SQL injection. In case you were not following recent news, 4chan is the abode of all Anonymous members.
There is no shortage of crazy people in this world, but then there are a few who deserve a special mention simply because of the magnitude of their stupidity. The Westboro Baptist Church, which is more of a hate group than anything else, happens to shelter quite a few such choice individuals.
In short, WBC is infamous for its extreme homophobia and anti-gay protests. The latest saga started last week when a press release from Anonymous that issued an ultimatum to WBC was posted on AnonNews. The statement was later confirmed to be fake by Anonymous, but not before it went viral. Soon after, WBC responded to the threats, and made a defiant stance, which set the stage for the following confrontation between Shirley from WBC and the Anon.
Initially Anon refused to wage war against WBC, and denied responsibility for knocking down godhatesfags.com, yourpastorisawhore.com and westborobaptistchurch.com (which was actually the handiwork of th3j35t3r). However, after being incited by Shirley, Anon proceeded to sucker-punch WBC by hacking their website, and leaving behind a special message. Check out the screencaps embedded below to catch up on the full saga.
When you are up against the most notorious faction on the Internet that has continuously brought down top websites over years and has a long-standing experience of raising mayhem, the least you can do is not make vague immature claims and try to become a hero in front of the media. That is one mistake Aaron Barr, the CEO of security company HBGary Federal did and it took his whole joyride down an anticlimax to an “aw, snap!” moment where he had to say,
lol..ok guys well u got me right. :)
This guy will be remembered as a bad example.
He lost much more than his job, pissed off quite a few people, became laughing stuff at work, lost his email ID, twitter account, valuable company emails, a TB of backup data and got his iPad wiped. Barr got the attention of Financial Times who did a story on him and his research claiming the identity of Anonymous members. Now that Barr was high and flying, he got a bit proactive too but took a wrong turn. He tried making contact with Anonymous. As you have figured by now, it did not end too well.
Attention seeker Barr got Anon’s attention and landed his company in trouble 6 days before a scheduled meeting with the FBI. After this, the best he could do, was say,
CommanderX. This is my researchâ€¦ I am not going to release names I am merely doing security research to prove the vulnerability of social media so please tell [redacted] and [redacted] or whoever else is hitting our site to stop.
The Internet blackout in Egypt was an eye opener on government control over the Internet and was a driving force behind the condemnation of a kill switch for the Internet. Though the matter was not over yet. As a closing move, Anonymous has brought down the Egyptian Government website with a DDoS.
A tweet from online protest gathering Anonymous today has indicated that it is hitting the Ministry of Information, among other departments, with a DDoS attack. Indeed, right now several of the country’s government sites are unresponsive, including moiegypt.gov.eg and mcit.gov.eg.
The tweet referenced in the above conversation appears below.
Anonymous began attacking government websites back on the 26th of January but soon after that, Internet went down for the whole nation. The Egyptian government finally had a taste of its own medicine.
Anonymous is the most notorious faction on the Internet. It has always been surrounded by controversies and has upset world governments all over. This attack on Egypt follows the WikiLeaks announcement that it will leak documents on Egypt. Even after the announcement, the Egypt government has been bold in shutting down Internet in the country and has simply made things worse for itself. Governments have to understand how the Internet works even before taking decisions like these.
If you haven’t heard about Encyclopedia Dramatica yet, I will point you to go to this Wikipedia article. The Wikipedia satire which is run by the 4Chan Anonymous group has poked fun on several people and things, Wiki style. However, it looks like the website has now been shut down or has been taken down like other 4Chan properties.
Encyclopedia Dramatica has been used to document and poke fun at various personalities. It has even been used to poke fun on the infamous banner on Wikipedia where Jimmy Wales asked visitors to donate to the site.
However, the Encyclopedia Dramatica site (http://encyclopediadramatica.com/) seems to be down right now. It isn’t clear whether the site’s has been shut down or whether it has just been hit with a DDoS. Nevertheless, its not loading anymore and we are trying to gather more information about it.
If you haven’t visited Encyclopedia Dramatica, you could do now thanks to this Google Cache page.
America’s leading bank, Bank of America seems to have suffered some sort of outage today. The website has been down for past few hours and users have been seen complaining on Twitter and elsewhere.
Online banking customers of Bank of America have been unable to login or load the website for almost past 6 hours now. Forbes is reporting that the site has been down since morning.
Bank of America has come under fire recently with reason related to WikiLeaks. However, the Anon group hasn’t attacked the website as they did with PayPal, MasterCard and Visa. However, the Anonymous group has called for a global protest on January 15.
So does Anon have anything to do with the BoFA outage? Well it is highly unlikely because the Anon group usually brags about their operations and there has been hardly any noise coming from their end, so this outage may be a technical issue which happened at BoFA’s end. A BoFA representative also confirmed this to Forbes.
If you are an affected customer you can follow updates on the situation at their twitter account @BoFA_Help. Hopefully, the website should be restored in the next few hours.
With the recent spate of attacks on Wikileaks (and as a side effect, the anon culture of 4chan and Usenet) anonymous freedom groupAnonymous has decided to ante up the pressure on traditional global media. Anonymous is urging faceless internet users to move into the real world and protest against the censorship of news and Wikileaks.
While the common internet user will not know the implications of hindering net neutrality, free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly the very things that Governments are vouching to quell and prohibit on the internet protests such as these will be an eye opener for many such users.
With banners stretching across The Pirate Bay and other free speech and pro-piracy websites as well as 4chan’s notorious /b/ board, it is safe to assume that January 15th will be quite the red-letter day in the history of the free society movement. Actively denouncing aggressive copyright policies and standing up for ideas rather than authorship, the protest aims to be so large that the traditional media will have to cover this activism. Anonymous calls people all over the world to peacefully protest on the streets of their city for these ideals.
4Chan has been notorious at trending topics on Google Search for a long time now. Google Trends basically track number of searches made for a particular term and then automatically pushes it up the trends if there are lots of searches happening for the same topic. Once a search term enters the trends, it can be viewed at http://www.google.com/trends/.
Many of Google search trends in the past have led to nothing and instead are some sort of pranks played by 4Chan Anon users on someone or the other. Quite recently 4Chan Anon members started to attack several big sites including MasterCard, Visa and PayPal among others for Operation Payback for Wikileaks.
Boing Boing did a good post on the tools being used by them to carry this attack. In that post, they had a link to an interesting image on how 4Chan wanted to spread rumors of it having access to Credit Card numbers of MasterCard users which can be viewed here. In that image, there was a section where instructions were posted on how to get into trending topics in Google Search.
Google search "MasterCard deemed unsafe". Go to RefreshThing.com. Paste Google search URL into url bar. Press Go!.
Doing this will automatically increase the number of records Google gets for a particular search and then get it into the trending topics and to the eyes of more users. This is not the first time that Google search trends have been gamed and it has been methodically carried out by lots of users in the past. However, 4Chan definitely has the clout to get it done. Such trending topics are also a cause for a lot of spam in Google News.
4Chan Anon group has definitely become quite an influence on the Internet and have probably reached a place of dominance where they can control it. Whether it is right or wrong is for you to decide.
I have contacted Google on this issue and am awaiting a response from the in this matter.