#Anonymous Hacks Government Websites; Could Your Clients Be Next?


The SOPA/PIPA debacle just keeps getting worse.

On Thursday, the Department of Justice yanked MegaUpload, a popular file sharing site, from the web. Hours later, in an apparent retaliation,  a number of government websites, including the White House, FBI, Department of Justice, U.S. Copyright Office, were taken down by hackers.

Anonymous claimed credit, with the hashtag, #OpMegaUpload, on Twitter. It also issued a press release.

Dozens of Websites Hacked

It was Anonymous’ largest, single coordinated attack, and lead to more than a dozen websites going dark, including recording industry sites like Universal Music, Vivendi, BMG, and recording industry advocacy sites MPAA and RIAA. Reportedly, it used more than 5,000 hacker worldwide to pull off the coordinated attack.

U.S. officials say the blackout of MegaUpload had nothing to do with SOPA blackout protests and their apparent success; I’ll leave you to make up your mind on that one, but government websites?


A Victory For SOPA?

Anonymous may have lobbed his first battle in the war, but the question is, who will win? Do they really think that shutting down government and recording industry websites  in retaliation for some members of Congress’ support of SOPA will really help their cause?

Is this a case of, shut my site down, I’ll shut down more of yours?

The DOJ labeled MegaUpload and international “crime ring” and charged its executives with crimes that could fetch as much as 55 years in prison. The FBI believes the site earned more than $175 million in “criminal proceeds” and did more than $500 million in harm to copyright owners around the world.

If anything, all of this will make some legislators fight harder to get SOPA approved. If they can shut down the DOJ, they can do anything, right? This was the first time in collective memory that Internet giants — from Google and Yahoo to eBay and Wikipedia — came together on a common theme, one accord.

Will this create a backlash? Maybe. Publicly, the anti-SOPA Internet consortium might say one thing about the hacked sites. But privately? Time — and votes — will only tell if Anonymous’ actions helped or hurt.

Congress will take up SOPA beginning on January 24.

No one knows Anonymous’ true motivation. It is, after all, anonymous. But you can believe that if the DOJ and other government websites were taken down, none of our clients’ websites are truly safe.

What do you think? Was it right for Anonymous to hack government websites? Is this a flawed strategy?

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