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February 26, 2013

Vi veri veniversum vivus vici. By the power of truth, I while living have conquered the universe. This is my blog’s tagline. This is a Latin phrase taken from some Germanic book written by somebody that I do not care about. Despite all the reasons I have not to care about this quote, I have spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out what it means and how I could possibly make it relevant. Alas, I cannot. The universe remains unconquered; and I’m not enough of a megalomaniac to claim otherwise. This quote is only relevant because each of its words begins with the letter V. I might have preferred to use the Latin phrase, “Veni, vidi, vici” (which means I came, I saw, I conquered) but despite my preference for this quote, unfortunately it was not featured in the movie V for Vendetta like the prior was.

Ironically these sorts of self-aggrandizing quotes never really caught on with Anonymous, at least not in the same way the Guy Fawkes mask from V for Vendetta did. This is ironic because “self-aggrandizing” defines Anonymous far more appropriately than the mask does. Anonymous and its offshoots have had some impressive hacks, but their core “hacking” methodology is quite simple and often masked by hype. Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are the heart of the Anon arsenal; whenever a headline reads “Anonymous takes down _____’s website” a DDoS attack is almost always involved. A simple DDoS attack consists of many computers constantly pinging a website and maxing out its bandwidth, thus causing the website to become inaccessible.

How does Anonymous accomplish this? They use botnets, which consist of willing or unwitting participants. How do you know if you part of a botnet? If your computer is connecting to multiple foreign IP addresses and using a large portion of your CPU whenever you connect to the internet, then you are part of a botnet. You are also part of a botnet if you installed Anonymous’s low-orbit ion cannon app (and are willingly participating in an illegal and easily traceable crime.)

The second bit of Anonymous’s method is called social engineering and basically involves tricking customer support into giving them the information necessary to take control of somebody’s account. Neither of these methods, which Anonymous uses to accomplish 90% of their mischief, are very threatening once you understand them. Anonymous does have some powerful techniques in their arsenal, but their primary weapon is fear. Most of that fear comes from the media confusing fear-mongering and news casting, and the rest comes from the majority of people having no idea how these “hacks” are performed. Hopefully this will work to clear the air a bit.


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