Links distributed by Anonymous and others could make your computer part of the DDoS, Sophos says

Dark Reading Staff, Dark Reading

January 21, 2012

2 Min Read

Anonymous is using some creative new methods to generate its distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on federal agencies and entertainment companies, according to an analysis by researchers at Sophos.

As part of its protest against the SOPA legislation and the takedown of the Megaupload file-sharing site earlier this week, Anonymous has claimed responsibility for attacks that effectively disabled the websites of the Department of Justice, the FBI, and the Motion Picture Association, among others.

"We Anonymous are launching our largest attack ever on government and music industry sites," Anonymous stated. "The FBI didn't think they would get away with this did they? They should have expected us."

In a blog about the Anonymous DDoS attacks, researchers at security firm Sophos suggest that the hacktivist group is using new tactics to add firepower to the exploit.

"In the past, Anonymous has encouraged supporters to install a program called LOIC [Low Orbit Ion Cannon], which allows computers to join in an attack on a particular website, blasting it with unwanted traffic," the Sophos blog observes.

"This time, things are slightly different: you only have to click on a web link to launch a DDoS attack," the blog says. "We've seen many links posted on Twitter, and no doubt elsewhere on the Internet, pointing to a page on the website. If you visit the webpage, and do not have JavaScript disabled, you will instantly, without user interaction, begin to flood a website of Anonymous's choice with unwanted traffic, helping to perpetuate a DDoS attack."

Sophos notes that participation in a DDoS attack is illegal, but Anonymous' approach might present a loophole in the law. "With this method, Anonymous might be hoping that participants could argue that they did not knowingly assist in the DDoS attack, and clicked on the link in innocence without realizing what it would do."

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Dark Reading Staff

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