Anonymous Threatens Zynga, Facebook TakedownsHacktivist collective plans Guy Fawkes Day protest over purported internal Zynga documents that reveal plans to lay off another 1,000 later this month.
Who Is Anonymous: 10 Key Facts (click image for larger view and for slideshow)
"Remember, remember the fifth of November." So goes the nursery rhyme, referring to the failed 1605 plot involving Guy Fawkes, who hoped to blow up the Houses of Parliament in England and restore a Catholic monarchy. Britain now annually burns Fawkes in effigy.
But the day also holds special meaning for the hacktivist collective Anonymous. Last week, notably, members of the group threatened to continue an online attack against the website of the beleaguered mobile game developer Zynga, as well as to release all of its games for free, as well as to take down Facebook, come Nov. 5, as part of what it dubbed Operation MaZynga.
"During the last few days anonymous has been targeting Zynga for the outrageous treatment of their employees and their actions against many developers," read a YouTube video uploaded by the group last week, which was quickly taken down for violating the site's "depiction of harmful activities" policies, reported Wired.
[ Read GoDaddy Outage: Anonymous Attack Or IT Failure?. ]
Zynga recently buried the news of its earnings results, as well as its layoff of 100 employees, by announcing it on the day that Apple announced its iPad Mini tablet.
According to the Anonymous statement, however, the group has obtained internal Zynga documents that show the firm is still planning to lay off 1,000 employees. "With a billion dollars cash sitting in a bank we do believe that such actions are an insult to the population and the behaviour of corporations like Zynga must change," said the statement, sporting the collective's de rigueur poor grammar. "Anonymous could not allow this to happen so it's starting to release confidential documents we have leaked on this plan. As we speak we are planning to release also all the games we've taken from their servers for free. That being said we will stop the idea of the distribution of such games if Zynga will cease immediately the plan."
Zynga didn't immediately respond to an emailed request for comment about whether the Anonymous allegations are true, or whether its site has recently been hit by distributed denial-of-service attacks.
Is the alleged plot against Zynga -- or for that matter, Facebook -- real? Last year, a supposed Anonymous operation to take down Facebook, also set for Nov. 5, was dismissed by other Anonymous channels as a hoax, as was a supposed virus campaign. Both purported operations came to nothing. Then again, the de facto leader of Anonymous, Sabu -- real name: Hector Xavier Monsegur -- had by then turned government informant, and might have been actively sabotaging any such efforts.
Verifying the authenticity of a post from an anonymous collective is inherently difficult. Compounding the challenge is the apparent move by other Anonymous factions to lay claim to this year's Nov. 5 agenda. For example, a Monday tweet from Anonymous Press read: "Preparing #OpVendetta Remember, remember 5th of November."
What's OpVendetta? According to a video statement posted to the Anonymous World Wide News blog, it's a planned march -- at 8 p.m. local time -- "on The Houses of Parliament peacefully and unarmed" that's meant to serve as "a warning to all governments worldwide that if they keep trying to censor, cut, imprison, or silence the free world or the free internet they will not be our governments for much longer. Change is coming."
The statement, attributed to the Anonymous "UK collective," demands a halt to a number of British-government-initiated "education, health and welfare cuts," and calls for the release of "activists held as political prisoners," including TVShack.net creator Richard O'Dwyer, WikiLeaks leader Julian Assange, the "PayPal 14," as well as alleged LulzSec participants Jeremy Hammond (a.k.a. Anarchaos) and Jake Davis (a.k.a. Topiary).
In other hacktivist-related news, over the weekend a number of NBC websites were defaced, including sites for Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock, with messages that reprinted the Guy Fawkes nursery rhyme. The defacements -- a hacker or group named "pyknic" claimed credit -- also said that user information and passwords were exposed, although didn't name the site from which they'd supposedly been obtained, or where they'd been leaked. Meanwhile, "pyknic" also claimed credit for the defacement of a Lady Gaga fan site, Gaga Daily.
Online retailers are stuck in a maze of e-business security and PCI compliance requirements. The new, all-digital special issue of Dark Reading gives you 10 Ways To Secure Web Data. (Free registration required.)