A group of 'hacktivists' calling themselves L0NGwave99 took on the stock exchange earlier this week after announcing their intentions on Sunday. Through coordinated Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS ) attacks the group, which acted in conjunction with the formless and international hacker collective Anonymous, and in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement, temporarily shut down the public websites for NASDAQ, BATS stock exchange and the Chicago Board options Exchange (CBOE). Although the attack made it difficult for internet users to access the websites it had no effect on the actual trading system.
The most common form of cyber warfare used by Anonymous and other hacker groups is DDoS attacks, in which an internet server supporting a website or group of sites is bombarded with phony requests for information. This can knock the website offline temporarily or make it unable to respond to legitimate requests. DDoS attacks violate the Internet Architecture Board's (IAB) proper use policy and also breaks the laws of individual countries in which the hackers operate.
L0NGwave99 announced their plans for Operation Digital Tornado on Pastebin.com, an online message board, writing The NASDAQ stock exchange besides a number of U.S. stock markets are going to face some problems and may need maintenance.
The statement continued, Will anybody be able to stop the people?s (sic) storm of seeking justice against the liar and deceptive Capitalism-Liberalism? Soon we will see...
On Feb. 14, @TheAnonMessenger, a Twitter accounted associated with Anonymous, tweeted, RETWEET BREAKING: #Anonymous , in cooperation with #LONGwave99 , have successfully taken down the #NASDAQ website.
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NASDAQ confirmed that cyber-attacks on its public website made it temporarily unreachable for some users, but claimed that they had little to no effect on the stock exchange.
The website wasn't hacked, nobody got any information. What they did was try to block access for our users, NASDAQ spokesman Joseph Christinat told Reuters.
Anonymous Declares Upcoming April Fool's Prank
Following the success of their hack attack on NASDAQ's website, Anonymous has announced that March 31 will be Global Blackout Day. Their attack will take place exactly six weeks from today, according to the statement and will target 13 main servers that together support the Internet globally through DDoS attacks similar to the ones used against NASDAQ but on a much larger scale.
In their statement, Anonymous makes it clear that they are not anti-internet. Rather they are using their most powerful form of expression to draw attention to the corruption of government and capitalism.
To protest [the Stop Online Piracy Act], Wall Street, our irresponsible leaders and the beloved bankers who are starving the world for their own selfish needs out of sheer sadistic fun, On March 31, anonymous will shut the Internet down, reads the statement. Remember, this is a protest, we are not trying to 'kill' the Internet, we are only temporarily shutting it down where it hurts the most...It may only last one hour, maybe more, maybe even a few days. No matter what, it will be global. It will be known.
In an article for Forbes magazine, Andy Greenberg argues that it is unlikely the cyber-attack will actually happen, and that Anonymous is simply doing what they do best, trolling us (making absurd claims to get a reaction out of the public).
According to security consultant Rob Graham could never take down the Internet with one fell swoop because the thirteen targeted servers, which are scattered in different locations ranging from the Pentagon and NASA to Maryland University, each function differently and would react in a different way to a uniformed DDoS attack.
A technique that might take out one of them likely won't affect the other twelve. To have a serious shot at taking out all 13, a hacker would have to test out attacks on each one, he writes. But, the owners of the systems would notice the effectiveness of the attacks, and start mitigating them before the coordinate attack against all 13 could be launched.
Graham also points out that there are far more than the supposed 13 servers, thousands of computers share that load, and taking them all out would be near to impossible.
In order to pull off a successful attack Anonymous would need to both increase the number of people participating and tailor individual attacks to each of the 13 servers without letting the details of the plans leak to the targeted victims. Announcing their intentions so far in advance may give Anonymous time to organize a successful global internet blackout with massive support, but it will also give its opposition time to prepare. Then again, the foreboding announcement may just be an attempt to rile their targets, the media and the world into a self-induced frenzy.