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Hacktivism

Hacktivism

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Published by: anonnoyb on Apr 08, 2011
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04/10/2013

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Term paper “Hacktivism & Cyberwarfare”Ahmed ShahbouA00762568Introduction to Computer CrimeFSCT 7220Rui PereiraApril 7
th
20111
 
INDEX
Title page...................................................................................................................................................1Index..........................................................................................................................................................2Executive Summary...................................................................................................................................2Introduction...............................................................................................................................................2Body...........................................................................................................................................................3Bibliography..............................................................................................................................................9
HACKTIVISM & CYBERWARFARE
Executive Summary
Cyberwar used to be somewhat of an elusive or futuristic idea but it has become very realwithin the last decade and now is at the top of national security concerns in several countries. We haveseen attacks on entire countries, some of the largest corporations and organizations in the world as wellas specific critical infrastructure. With the mass availability of the Internet and information, joiningcyberwarfare is at the disposal of practically anybody who cares to join. This allows for bigger proteststhan any physical ones so far, which would be limited by geographic location and space as well as thenumber of people available and intimidation tactics used by those opposing the protests. Our world haschanged drastically since the introduction and widespread use of the Internet and then again with thearrival of Wikileaks and Anonymous on the scene. This paper discusses the background to these attacksand describes a few of them.
Introduction
Our physical world is slowly becoming one with its digital counterpart. With technologyprogressing at exponential rates as always and generations of children who do not know of a time whencomputers and the internet were seamlessly part of everyone's lives, we are at a point of no return.What was once unimaginable only thirty years ago (or less), is now as regular as breathing to manypeople. Online banking, dating, social networking, schooling and working are now extremely popular to the extent that it has affected our language, globalization and the way we interact with each other andeven see life! Law enforcement has started to investigate robberies of virtual homes, cyber bullying,electronic crimes that were simply committed from a keyboard, but do have real observable effects inour physical world. Considering the level of integration we are faced with today, the levels of anonymity that come with the internet, and the distances involved (as well as the problems withjurisdictions that arise from this), it is not hard to see why criminals have been turning to the internetfor their dirty work. Law enforcement is clearly always a step behind when it comes to high-techcrimes and criminals know this well. Technology is merely a tool and not evil or moral – rather thepeople that are using it have these attributes and can use the tool in whichever way they want. While itenables criminals, it has also aided the police forces in finding and investigating people.2
 
These cyber criminals are no longer even necessarily “hackers”. Much of their activities isfacilitated by coders, who develop exploit scripts for them and make them publicly available. The termhacker originally meant coder, somebody talented with computers (when they weren't as easily useableby the general populous) or simply a reference to somebody 'hacking' away all day at their keyboard.Once the hacker phenomenon got media attention, they were demonized making the term infamous.Self-proclaimed hackers, who upheld a strong code of honour or “hacker ethics”, started coming upwith new terms to differentiate themselves from these evil cyber pirates the media made them out to be.These terms included white-hat and black-hat hackers, hackers and crackers etc. Both groups sharedsome ideological values such as freedom of information, however differed in their method or approachwith regards to achieving this end goal. Just as wars have brought about new inventions andimprovements on existing technologies, traditional hackers feel they are contributing in a similar fashion to our digital world.With machines (computers) now capable of the storage of enormous amounts of data and aridiculous amount of processing cycles (calculations), software developers (or coders) are free toproduce ever more bloated and fancy looking applications for these machines and their users. Softwareis built upon and often expected to interact with other software, from other companies. The immenseamount of code and interaction brings about the existence of vulnerabilities. Vulnerabilities areweaknesses in the design of the code that allow for malicious minded (or curious) individuals to causethe application to produce unexpected or unintended results. These results often involve access toinformation or the systems they reside on that the user is not supposed to have access to. The term usedfor the action of taking advantage of these vulnerabilities is “exploit”. The noun of this word refers to ascript written by a coder, that attacks the specific weakness in the system. Each exploit considered athreat and in today's world administrators are inundated with constantly released patches and fixeswhich attempt to plug the holes in the software that allow for these exploits to work. Patches are merelyone form of risk mitigation, along with firewalls which block intrusion attempts, intrusion detectionsystems, intrusion prevention systems, insurance, employee awareness and training, system hardening(the tweaking of settings to make for more secure systems), physical site security, backup systems etcetc. However, no computer can ever be totally secure! The more one secures a system, the more itbecomes (unreasonably) expensive to do so and the less useable it becomes. After all, a turned off computer, encased in cement, at the bottom of an ocean, is quite secure, but of no use to anybody.Security however, while being very important, is an extremely tough sell as most people do notconcern themselves with it until a breach has occurred. The return on investment is zero unless onecounts the future potential damages against it or a breach occurs. Only people with bad experiences,security minded professionals, paranoid people and IT admins who can think like economists(opportunity cost) are concerned with it unfortunately. Heck, the internet itself was built on a protocolthat had reliability in mind with total disregard to security. This laissez-faire type of attitude prevalentthroughout our combined physical and digital worlds, makes it the perfect playground for criminals.The types of crime that have become so common on the internet that most people just shrug them off now include phishing, spear phishing, DOS attacks, dDOS attacks, spam, scams, vishing, many typesof hijacking, trojans, viruses, worms, spyware, adware, bots and botnets, password cracking andunauthorized access, identity theft, money laundering, social engineering, and a plethora of other attacks. These attacks may be initiated out of boredom, a desire for kudos in the undergroundcommunity, financial gain, curiosity or political motivations (known as hacktivism).Spam is simply unsolicited junk email, which can be for legitimate products or combined withmany different kinds of scam or scheme. Phishing is a type of spam that attempts to fool you intosubmitting your personal information (such as passwords, information relating to your identity or 3

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