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8/10/2011
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Anonymous Threats To Kill Facebook: Another Hoax?

Security experts question whether the plot against Facebook is real, noting odd Twitter accounts used to launch the campaign.

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"Join the cause and kill Facebook for the sake of your own privacy."

That exhortation comes via a FacebookOp channel YouTube post, Message from Anonymous: Operation Facebook, Nov 5 2011. While the video was uploaded last month and announced via Twitter, the video's page views only approached one million views recently, as multiple news outlets referenced the post, warning of an impending Anonymous attack against Facebook.

But as with the recent study tying browser usage to IQ, released by a Canadian consulting company, widely reported as fact by numerous media outlets, and then revealed to be a hoax, security experts are questioning whether the plot against Facebook is real.

"Pay attention to the strange Twitter name they used and links to websites with adverts," said security expert Eugene Kasperky in a Twitter post, reported The Register. "The news around #Anonymous to attack #Facebook on Nov 5 most probably is fake."

Interestingly, the first statement about "FacebookOp" from a regular Anonymous source also didn't back the campaign, and may have even botched the official hash tag. "FYI - #OpFacebook is being organized by some Anons. This does not necessarily mean that all of #Anonymous agrees with it," read the post to the Twitter channel "GroupAnon," which has served as a reliable source of information about Anonymous-backed activities.

The post suggests that there may be confusion on the part of Anonymous participants as to whether "some Anons" are even involved, or whether it's all just a hoax. Then again, as shown by the swift arrest of two people in Britain who are accused of posting messages on Facebook inciting others to riot, any armchair campaign--run by a regular Anonymous member or not--has the potential to become a real-world rallying cry.

Regardless of whether the anti-Facebook campaign began as a hoax, the call to arms does tie into Anonymous mythology. Namely, the date designated for the forthcoming attacks, November 5, is Guy Fawkes Night in Britain, celebrating the botched revolution known as the Gunpowder Plot of 1605, in which a band of English Catholic rebels in possession of a large cache of explosives--which Guy Fawkes was found guarding--failed to assassinate the Protestant monarch, King James I of England, and install a Catholic monarch in his place. Fawkes and his co-conspirators were executed, and British people now annually burn him in effigy.

Outside Britain, however, the holiday has gained some notoriety thanks to being featured as the day of revolution in the movie V For Vendetta, in which the protagonist sports a Guy Fawkes mask. That mask, in turn, was adopted as the symbol of the pro-WikiLeaks hacktivist collective Anonymous, most recently officially known for leaking data relating to 56 different law enforcement agencies.

Hence, whether or not the attackers are practicing members of Anonymous, they at least appear to have done their homework. But as to Facebook privacy transgressions and the aforementioned movie's tagline, "beware the 5th of November," the jury is still out.

The vendors, contractors, and other outside parties with which you do business can create a serious security risk. Here's how to keep this threat in check. Also in the new, all-digital issue of Dark Reading: Why focusing solely on your own company's security ignores the bigger picture. Download it now. (Free registration required.)

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