Hacktivists claiming allegiance to Anonymous launched a series of distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks this week against Russian government websites, under the banner of "OpDefiance."
"kremlin.ru - TANGO DOWN ... #OpDefiance #Anonymous #d4th #DDoS #WIN," read a tweet posted via the Anonymous Op_Russia account. It included links to screenshots showing the targeted websites suffering increasingly longer response times.
[ Online anonymity can lead to dangerous situations, but it also has its advantages. Read more at Has Anonymous Ruined Online Anonymity?. ]
The Kremlin's press service acknowledged the attacks, which briefly knocked the Kremlin's public-facing website offline. "We received threats from Anonymous several days ago but we can't confirm it's exactly this group that attacked the Kremlin.ru website. At the moment we can't establish who's behind the attack. Unfortunately we live at a time when technology security threats have mounted, but we have the means to resist them," read a statement released by the Kremlin.
Anonymous previewed the attacks last week. In a Pastebin post and YouTube clip, Anonymous said the attacks were meant to support the country's protests against alleged vote tampering during the March elections, which led to Putin being elected to serve another six-year term as president.
"We are going to support the protest by taking down the lying government information resources, the first of which will be the official site of the Russian government, said government having been assembled by way of lies and electoral fraud," read a statement released by Anonymous.
The call to arms designated two more Russian government websites--gov.ru and government.ru--as targets, including the times they should be attacked, presumably using DDoS tools. But according to RT.com, while those sites were attacked Monday, they didn't go down.
In other hacktivist news, Norway's National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) said that it's arrested two teenagers on charges of launching DDoS attacks against numerous financial institutions as well as Britain's Serious Organized Crime Agency (SOCA), which has investigated alleged illegal activity by Anonymous and LulzSec members. The SOCA website was most recently knocked offline by DDoS attacks last week.
The Norwegian teens, who haven't been named, are 18 and 19 years old, and police said they launched the attacks over a period of several weeks. Local news reports identified some of their targets as the Norwegian security police service PST, along with DnB bank, the Norwegian Lottery, and Germany's tabloid newspaper Bild. If convicted, the pair could face up to six years in prison on charges of aggravated criminal damage.
But investigators said they're still pursuing more suspects. "We have arrested the two people we believe were most central to these attacks, but we are still hoping to speak to more people," said prosecutor Erik Moestue, reported in the English-language Norwegian newspaper The Local. "We have not yet discovered a motive for the attacks, so we're assuming that they're doing it to get a kick or to destroy things for others. They're a gang of boys."
The Local also reported that police were aided by the Norwegian branch of Anonymous, which disclosed the identities of the suspects, who they said were part of "a group of 14- to 16-year-olds with very limited computer skills." Published information reportedly included the suspects' names, addresses, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, and social network identities.
But a message posted Wednesday on the Anonymous Norway (anonnorway.org) website said such news reports were incorrect: "We at anonnorway has nothing to do with the ongoing investigation NCIS conducts about DDoS attacks against various websites. We have neither 'outed' nor exposed people, and we have not been in contact with law enforcement authorities at all. Any article that claims the opposite is sadly misinformed."
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