Evan Davis was fascinated on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme this morning with the discussion about cyber security and the background and structure of so-called ‘hacktavist’ operations. The most recent ‘Operation Payback’ has just targeted sites including MasterCard.com, Visa.com and Pay Pal.com who are accused of refusing to process donations to Wikileaks. The 22 year old unofficial spokesperson for Anonymous known as ‘Coldblood’ responded by saying, "Websites that are bowing to government pressure have become targets. As an organisation we have always taken a strong stance on censorship and freedom of expression on the internet and come out against those who seek to destroy it by any means. We feel that WikiLeaks has become more than just about leaking of documents, it has become a war ground, the people versus the government."
In a tactic known as ‘distributed denial of service’ the websites were flooded with traffic in an attempt to shut them down – a tactic which is arguably much harder to counter than a virus or Trojan for example. Visa.com also went down for a brief period of time despite having several servers and globally distributed content but the organisations themselves have played down the impact regarding the attacks as a temporary “service disruption”. This morning the Swedish government website has also been forced to come offline so is this a sign of things to come?
The cyber world is continually growing and affecting not only our work lives, but also our day-to-day lives, shopping habits, music, culture etc. the list is endless. With the rising popularity of social networks and social media/marketing as well as films such as Social Network and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the impact of the internet is becoming insidious throughout certain parts of the world from headlines about Wikileaks right through to the rising dominance of kids’ online games sites such as Glitch. With this comes the inevitable rise in security issues and concerns and keynote speakers such as Kevin Mitnick, Bruce Schneier and Alexis Conran are in increasing demand to explain what is happening and what to be aware of.
Cyber crime forensics and ‘e-crime detectives’ are also on the rise alongside ‘virtual task forces’ made up of officials from banks, financial institutions and academics who work with the police to counter cyber crimes. Scotland Yard also announced this week that they have employed a 12 strong ‘geek squad’ made up of specialist PhD students to help with the rising demands, “The IT world moves so quickly we need to keep up to date with new ideas. We hope the students will be able to refresh our knowledge. They will be at the cutting edge of investigation.”
It will be interesting to see how everything develops over the next few weeks, not only with Wikileaks but also with the cyber projects that will seek to show their disapproval – and not with a war of words but the newfound war of data.
Copyright Speakers Corner 2017