Operation: Payback - The UpStream

Operation: Payback

posted Sunday Oct 3, 2010 by Nicholas DiMeo

Operation: Payback

The users at 4chan, a popular image board responsible for many Internet memes such as the Rickroll, lolcats, and the "Anonymous" assault on the Church of Scientology, publicly announced a coordinated DDoS attack against the Motion Picture Association of America in retaliation for the hiring of an Indian-based software firm, which carried out similar attacks on The Pirate Bay and other file sharing sites.

Girish Kumar, managing director of Aiplex Software, the firm in India, said that his company, which works for the film industry, was being hired to pretty much be hitmen who would launch cyber attacks on pirate sites that were hosting illegal material if they didn't respond to copyright infringement notices sent to them by the film industry. This is a cyber crime under American and other countries' laws.

The attacks have been ongoing since early September, with major websites taking falls and experiencing huge downtime for up to 24 hours. Websites and companies affected are the Motion Picture Association of America, WebSheriff, DG Legal, Davenport Lyons and the British Phonographic Industry, to name a few. The most recent attack is the Ministry of Sound, a British music service.

However, the most important attack was on the company responsible for hiring Aiplex Software (as a note, their website is still down), the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy, or ACS. The attack on their website has caused a massive security breach that contained a list of emails linked to illegal pornographic videos that was procured and then distributed all over torrent sites by the attackers.

To find out more on what's going on and why it won't stop until the attackers 'stop being angry', hit the break. (WARNING: NSFW. Contains explicit language from original documents. Discretion is advised.)

The Anonymous collective has determined that ACS is responsible for giving them reason to attack all of these sites and effectively bring them to a screeching halt. Essentially, ACS hired this company to launch these attacks, the Internet became aware of this and issued an attack of their own onto ACS' website. The website was down for a couple of hours. It probably would have ended there if not for ACS:Law Head, Andrew Crossley's instigative remarks.

Big Whoop, It was only down for a few hours. I have far more concern over the fact of my train turning up 10 minutes late of having to queue for a coffee than them wasting my time with this sort of rubbish.

Oops. Hey Drew, maybe you shouldn't try to piss off the Internet, especially when they're already mad at you. I hear they're a crafty bunch.

Because of these remarks, the attackers shifted their focus and rage on every and any group in charge or responsible for monitoring or prosecuting suspected pirates and the affiliated websites. Their first attack was to be on Aiplex, which was successful. Just 8 minutes after that, they selected the Motion Picture Association of America as their next target and that website also went down. Due to the success of the larger target, they quickly decided on their next victim, the Recording Industry Association of America. The posters are below.(WARNING: NSFW. Images below contains explicit language. Clicking on them will expand the images to full-size. Discretion is advised.)

operation payback poster operation payback poster

These attacks were ongoing day after day and each time, the sites went down. The Anonymous team was able to modify their attack tools and allow the software to turn their computer into a voluntary bot by simply inputting the correct IRC C&C server into the program, enabling it to do the work for them.

The attackers then decided to state their reasoning for the attacks:

To whom it concerns,

Over the past years we have seen an technological revolution. One where you are free, in the most extreme anarchistic sense, to share ideas. Some of these ideas are shared behind proxies, darknets, or similar "closed doors", but the ideas are out there. This kind of revolution is of the mind, and its effects on respective societies is all but surprising. While the people embrace this revolution, this new "anarchy" of freedom to share, leaders have crushed and seek to crush it before it even begins in earnest.

These "anarchists", who are only anarchists in the minds of leaders seeking to destroy this freedom, have succeeded en-mass in distributing content to the poor, the underpriveleged, the restricted. The most popular pirates are the chinese, whose content filters restrict a vast amount of content from them. The second most popular, the poor, who cannot afford things like college books or entertainment. Indeed, while mostly ignored, a vast amount of educational literature is available to the everyday pirate. Enough that saw me through college, even, when I otherwise could not have afforded it.

It is no different, though, than when these powers that be tried to silence the record player, the cassette, the CD. The same claims were made then, and they were ignored, so why now are they listened to? This flawed application of extremist capitalism upon what is considered sacred by any culture - knowledge - is treason upon every human. All should have the right to listen to that beat, experience that twist in a plot, or learn from the mass volumes of literature now made available.

You already know this, however. You know it when you freely give your unused software, illegally I might add (remember: You don't own the software you buy (1)), to a friend or acquaintence. You know it when you give that old college book to a persin in need. You know it when little girls are basically raped in the name of "justice" (2). You know it when thousands of bullshit legal letters are sent to SCARE money out of people (3). You know it when such organizations lie through their teeth, produce false documents, and spread misinformation about its opponents (4). You know that this is not right when your leaders inexplicably support massive capitalist enterprises over the majority opinion of their own people (5). You know they are wrong when they use illegal means to get what they want, while simultaneously bashing us for doing the same (6).

If you were to assume the propaganda of various community-reputable organisations such as...

The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA)

The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)

The British Phonographic Industry (BPI)

The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT)

Stichting Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (BREIN)

...you would have heard many a story that if you say, 'pirate' a film or an album, you are depriving a simple artist, actor or crewmember from their rightful wage. They won't be able to break even for their next lot of groceries - and YOU robbed them of THEIR money. Money that they only see a small percentage of, they carefully omit. Do they ever tell you how small of a percentage most script writers, novelists, etc, actually make? No, and there is a reason why. Do they tell you how much THEY, the anti-piracy organizations, make? No, and there is a reason why.

In the end, our DDoS efforts have been compared to waiting for a train (7). What do we have to do to be heard? To be taken seriously? Do we have to take to the streets, throwing molitovs, raiding offices of those we oppose? Realize, you are forcing our hand by ignoring us. You forced us to DDoS when you ignored the people, ATTACKED the people, LIED TO THE PEOPLE! You are forcing us to take more drastic action as you ignore us, THE PEOPLE, now.

We will not stop.

We will not forget.

We will prevail.

We are anonymous.

(1) http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2010/09/first-sale-doctrine/

(2) http://www.techdirt.com/articles/20100722/09434710323.shtml

(3) http://technews.am/conversations/techdirt/acs_law_asks_those_who_deny_infringing_to_incriminate_themselves

(4) We DID NOT attack the pirate party, we ARE NOT affiliated with anti-scientology activism, and The Pirate Bay has not organized this.

(5) http://www.which.co.uk/news/2010/01/acs-law-letter-writing-continues-197714

(6) http://torrentfreak.com/anti-piracy-boss-denies-dos-attacks-torrent-site-refutes-claim-100912/

(7) http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/09/22/acs_4chan/

The Anonymous team also selected their next downfall that was set for September 23rd at 8:30 AM ET, ACS Law Solicitors, because of Crossley's remark. During the attack, Anonymous uncovered a backup of ACS-Law Email’s and have made them publicly available for download at The Pirate Bay. These emails also contained the list of email addresses along with corresponding illegally downloaded pornographic videos. ACLS-Law is now facing legal action over the data breach. Anonymous leaders has this to say regarding the incident:

We’re still sorting through it. There’s a lot of stuff here to go through. But, basically, we were told we were less important than a 10 minute late train, or a queue for coffee by Andrew. Payback is a bitch, isn’t it Andrew?

If you thought that was it, it gets juicier. A couple of days after the fall of ACS-Law, Anonymous chat servers were under DDoS and chat flooding assaults. Botnet controlled users were joining the sessions with Pokemon nicknames. Nobody knows for sure who was responsible for these assaults, but it was interesting enough to note that some of the bots joined with the nickname "AIPLEX_HAS_YOU."

That's not all, either. Earlier this week, Panda Security released a Q&A with one of the Anonymous organizers, and we have it here for you:

Q: Who is Anonymous?

A: I believe it is just a description of what we are. Anonymous is not an organization with hierarchy and leaders. We manifest as Anarchy. We are comprised of people from all walks of life. In short, we feel strongly motivated to do what we can to fight back against things which are morally questionable.

Q: What is your current mission?

A: To fight back against the anti-piracy lobby. There been a massive lobbyist-provoked surge in unfair infringements of personal freedom online, lately. See the Digital Economy Bill in the UK, and “three strikes” legislation in the EU which both threaten to disconnect internet connections based on accusations supplied by the music and movie industries. In the USA, a new bill has been proposed that could allow the USA to force top level registrars such as ICANN and Nominet to shut down websites, all with NO fair trial. Guilty until proven guilty! Our tactics are inspired by the very people who provoked us, AiPlex Software. A few weeks back they admitted to attacking file sharing sites with DDoS attacks.

We recommend reading our official statement here: http://pastebin.com/kD52Af4N

Q: Do you advocate piracy?

A: Yes. It is the next step in a cultural revolution of shared information. Imagine it as the beginnings to an information singularity; a beginning of true “equality of opportunity”, regardless of wealth or capacity. I would not have gotten anywhere near my accomplishments today without the books I pirated. I can’t afford them!

Q: What websites have you attacked?

A: The Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), The British Phonographic Industry (BPI), The Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft (AFACT) ,Stichting Bescherming Rechten Entertainment Industrie Nederland (BREIN), ACS:Law, Aiplex, Websheriff, and Dglegal.

Q: Your original poster mentioned that “botnets” would be used in this attack. Do any of you profit from cyber crime?

A: That depends if you’re using the anti-piracy lobby definition of cyber criminal or not. To be clear, we do not condone any sort of profit from botnets or malware for that matter, but the vast majority of what is constituted as Cyber Crime can be something as simple as downloading your favourite song, instead of paying ridiculous fees for that song (which the artist will only see a fraction of).

Q: What’s your affiliation with 4chan? Are you all active members?

A: Some of us frequent 4chan, but we have no affiliation with any forum or website for that matter. We simply use them to communicate.

Q: How long will this attack go on for?

A: There is no time frame. We will keep going until we stop being angry.

Q: Are you prepared to go to jail for your cause?

A: Yes, but we’ve taken every measure we can to make sure that our anonymity remains in tact. More importantly, why isn’t this question asked to the very people who hired Aiplex to attack us in the first place?

Q: If you were able to resolve this situation, what would you want the respective media authorities of the world to do?

A: Personally, I would want them to basically go the fuck away altogether. Remove the barbaric laws they have lobbied for. Treat people like PEOPLE instead of criminals. Their long outdated traditional views on copyright infringement enforced solely by rich and powerful corporations need to be modified in light of the modern age on the Internet, the Information Age.

Artists under the media conglomerates have very little say in the content they produce and make a fraction of the profit. This is fairly evident with several mainstream artists who’ve now defected from the media regimes control. Take Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead as two great examples. Both groups have embraced piracy and have still continued to make a significant profit for themselves.

Q: Are you aware that this sort of attack is illegal in many countries and that your group can potentially put innocent people who support your cause under legal scrutiny?

A: I think that most people/participants are aware of that risk. In a world where our voice is ignored we feel we have no choice but to revert to direct action.

Q: Some people view this as the future of protests. Do you foresee future protests like this for other causes in the future?

A: Certainly. As for the protests, I hope the future of protests is ACTION. Not walking in circles with useless signs that are ignored.

I know this is one big, crazy story and it's a lot of information to take in, but I'm genuinely curious what our readers think? Do you support the Anonymous group in doing what they are doing? Do you support Aiplex for their cyber crimes? Are you participating in the attacks? We want to know about it all. Leave us a comment in the comments section below! We will keep everyone updated as this story obviously unfolds.

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