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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Homeland Security Claimed Anonymous Enemy #1

Considering that Osama bin Laden is now dead, which means that the terrorist threat to the United States is reduced, the Department of Homeland Security needs a new enemy to fight.

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The reason is clear – without enemies there’s no reason for existence. Everyone understands that voters won’t allow Homeland Security to exist if they get beaten up by a cop rather than by a terrorist. So, the media reports prove that Homeland Security has already settled on the hacker group Anonymous as a potential Enemy #1. According to a new Security bulletin, this particular hacker group has expressed interest in attacking industrial systems controlling such critical infrastructures as gas and oil pipelines, as well as chemical plants and so on.

In fact, this was the same claim that the Homeland Security earlier made for Al Qaeda and which never happened. In the meantime, the outfit itself admits that the hacker group hasn’t got necessary skills. However, the hacktivists are believed to get such skills very quickly “by studying publicly available information”.

The Homeland Security warned that experienced and skilled members of the hacker group could develop the capabilities to access and trespass on control system networks rapidly. At the same time, the report admits that attacks on these significant systems aren’t actually Anonymous’ style, because the latter usually prefers to “harass its targets by rudimentary attack methods”. However, the Anonymous’ interest in attacking those systems could increase once they realize how poorly they are actually secured and find out how to leverage publicly available data about vulnerabilities.

There is evidence that the DHS used to justify putting hacktivists in its sights: it turned out to be a July post at Pastebin over a DDoS attack against Monsanto and future plans against the company. Another proof was a tweet by one of the hacktivists over the results of browsing the directory tree for Siemens SIMATIC. Another hacker revealed XML and HTML code used to query the SIMATIC system in order to search for vulnerabilities inside. That’s why the Homeland Security is afraid that the hackers could launch the attacks similar to Stuxnet against American infrastructure. Just to compare, Stuxnet has been developed by some of most highly trained technicians in the country. Moreover, it had to be manually installed in offline machines, and this is something that Anonymous definitely couldn’t do. Finally, as a hacktivist movement, the group has always claimed to be on the side of the people, not against them.

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