Posts Tagged ‘hackers’

It’s obvious and yet I never thought about it. Revolutionaries exist on the internet and they can destroy or redistribute information, cause monetary loss and emotional distress, make ultimatums, etc. The main tool used so far by internet revolutionaries and cyber protestors is the DDoS attack. Well-orchistrated DDoS attacks can take sites down for hours, days, or even longer if the defenders are completely outstripped by their attackers.

The power of these internet movements cannot be ignored. Approximately seventy million people use Sony’s online services and they have been denied access for over 72 hours and Sony has now admitted that this outage was caused by an external intrusion into their system. That’s three days of lost purchases, three days of people not being able to use the online components of games that were just released. The longer this external intrusion keeps the Playstation Network offline, the higher the chance Sony will lose customers and revenue.

I’m not sure I would call what’s currently happening to Sony “hacktivism” because it has a more militaristic effect than what I normally attribute to hacktivism. This forced suspension of their services is more similar to what would happen if people were protesting outside of every place that sold Sony products and preventing anyone from purchasing Sony products. The difference here is that these activists may not ever face jail time for their protest.

The hacker group Anonymous has stated their motives many times and they have carried out various attacks, including one against the Playstation Network that started on April 6th 2011, but they claim no part in the current attack. Whoever the current attackers are, their motives have not been made public and their identities/affiliations with other groups may never be known.

Due to Sony’s secretive tendencies and the fact that many people don’t trust the electronics giant, some have suggested that Sony may be blaming hackers for the outage when it is actually an internal problem with their servers. I don’t think this is the case, but I can’t deny the possibility.

Regardless of the true nature of what’s happening to Sony, we are in a new era. Years ago, if someone posted something similar to what I’ve posted here, it would have been less believable. Activism, crime, and civil disobedience have been fully integrated into the internet and they will only get stronger as more and more of our lives become dependent on online services.

Summary of the future:
Problem = Civil disobedience on the internet is increasing in scale and severity as the internet grows to fill more parts of our lives.

Utopian future = Cyber disobedience could give individuals the power they need to stand against the corporations and large organizations that are consolidating the wealth of the world. The tactics of internet activists could gradually be coaxed into less destructive and yet effective ones as the legal system evolves to deal with cyber disobedience.

Dystopian future = Due to the difficulty of tracking down the people who are causing destructive attacks, the ones that are caught may face very harsh treatment from the legal system. As the severity of the attacks and the importance of online property increase, the penalties for this behavior would probably increase. Companies will probably pressure the government to crack down and, given the other factors I’ve mentioned, the government may go overboard by greatly increasing their surveillance of online activities.

I believe that the dystopian future is more likely because the government has repeatedly shown that it is unequipped to deal with internet-related issues. Governments throughout the entire world appear to respond to electronic threats with more fear than logic.

Update: Sony’s online services are still down and Sony has stated that they are rebuilding their system to strengthen their network infrastructure.

Update2: Sony has sent out an email saying that the hackers may have grabbed personal information including credit card numbers and expiration dates. The PlayStation Network is still down over eight days since it first went offline.

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