While the Occupy movement has relied primarily on peaceful protest marches to highlight post-recession income inequality in the United States, recent months have made clear that the rise of the American left is a double edged sword and a darker, angrier sub-group of the movement is willing to take on authorities more aggressively.
After its first high profile Christmas-weekend attack against Texas-based security firm Stratfor, which resulted in the exposure of the company’s global blue-chip clientele list, this rebel group of “hacktivists” called Anonymous brought down a much larger prey on Friday – the Central Intelligence Agency.
All through Friday afternoon and evening the website of the U.S.’ top intelligence agency only showed an error message and even on early Saturday morning this correspondent could not log onto the page. Simultaneously Anonymous announced via its Twitter pages and Tumblr feed that the Central Intelligence Agency's website had been taken down.
The modus operandi was likely to be a distributed denial-of-service attack and, referencing this, a Twitter posting by Anonymous-linked account noted, “We’d remind media that if we report a hack or DDOS attack, it doesn't necessarily mean we did it... FYI”
Another posting read: “CIA TANGO DOWN: https://www.cia.gov/ #Anonymous.” Others referenced news story highlighting the alleged takedown. Reports quoted CIA spokeswoman Jennifer Youngblood saying on Friday night, “We are aware of the problems accessing our website, and are working to resolve them.”
And it was not only the CIA. The U.S. state of Alabama came under a hack-attack too, and a website identified by CNN to included Anonymous' signature tag line said that the action was Anonymous’ response to “Alabama's recent racist legislation in an attempt to punish immigrants as criminals.”
Alabama last summer joined with Arizona and others in passing unprecedentedly stringent immigration laws, including granting local police sweeping powers to conduct stop-and-search operations and measures to ramp up the pace of deportation of suspected illegal immigrants.
A third target selected in Friday’s attack was Mexico's Mining Ministry. An Anonymous-linked Twitter page supplied links to documents and messages that it said it had taken off a website tied to the Ministry. Reports quoted a related Twitter post from Anonymous saying, “Hello Mexican Chamber of Mines. Want to see your emails exposed?”
Inexplicably, Friday also witnessed a hacker group using the nickname “Casi” taking credit for hacking the United Nations website and reportedly releasing vulnerabilities on the site. It was unclear why the UN was targeted, although it may have been an unrelated attack given the absence of Anonymous’ now-famous signature message: “We are Anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”