Cyber-Attack Against ITU – Is Anonymous At It Again?

We’ve discussed in past weeks that Anonymous has become what some would call the “Robin Hood” of the Internet, while others may call them advocators of vigilante Internet justice. While we can’t say for sure whether or not the group was behind the recent cyber-attack on ITU (an attack that brought down the organization’s website and disrupted the highly-anticipated Dubai conference), the attack does seem to be something that Anonymous might stand behind.

Why is Anonymous Suspect?

Why do we think Anonymous is behind the attack on the ITU site? Well, first of all, this wasn’t a hack job done by novices. The people behind the attack knew exactly how and when to strike. The attack went down as the ITU was holding a conference in Dubai. The attack then resulted in a network outage that prevented citizens, media and other interested parties from following the event’s proceedings via the Web. There were even delegates who could not access some of the online working documents that were to be considered at the meeting.

The speed, stealth and timing of the attack are not the only reasons we at Alertra feel that Anonymous may indeed be behind the attack however. Anonymous issued a statement declaring, “While we feel most of the controversial proposals at this year's WCIT stand little chance of passing, we feel that the ITU is extremely non-transparent and un-democratic.”

The problem with the ITU? It seems that the organization is in favor of a more highly-regulated Internet (including one that allows “authorities” to read encrypted messages sent via the Web). If you have read our previous posts regarding Anonymous’s activities, then you know that this is exactly the type of control that Anonymous does not want in place.

Anonymous – Friend or Foe?

Some people view Anonymous as the superheroes of the Web, ensuring that freedom is kept and the Internet truly remains something that belongs to the people. Others view them as a malicious hacker group that interferes with the websites of reputable organizations and institutions. What is certain is that if Anonymous deems that something is a threat to Internet freedom or an infringement upon human rights, they will likely do something about it. The attack during the conference in Dubai is just one example of this.

While supporters of Anonymous are likely cheering about the Dubai disruption, there is one thing that is on our minds here at Alertra. Did anyone notify the ITA when their site went down? While we won’t take a formal stand for or against Anonymous, this situation does leave one wondering if the ITU even has website monitoring services in place…