• In response to the attempt to shut down free file-sharing sites, such as The Pirate Bay, 4chan users have organized to launch denial of service attacks against several targets.
  • The attack, joined by thousands of anonymous users of the website, resulted in 37 service interruptions
  • More cyber-protests are planned. The latest target is the British Phonographic Industry.

Last Friday we witnessed what could be deemed the first organized mass cyber-protest on the Internet, against the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), bodies that set out to protect copyright and distribution rights, as a response to the action that both these organizations have been undertaking against free file-sharing sites: they had contracted an Indian software company to launch attacks against sites such as The Pirate Bay, forcing them to close.

According to Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs: “The most significant element of this event –in addition to the damage caused and that may continue to be caused- is that it is the first mass cyber-protest of its kind launched across the Web, where numerous anonymous users have joined forces and pooled their knowledge for a common cause, which romantic as it may seem to some, is just another claim over rights on the Internet. Perhaps this will be the shape of things to come for cyber-protests and demonstrations: difficult to stop, difficult to locate and track down and with widespread support.”

This protest, promoted by the 4chan user group -a popular image board responsible for many Internet memes such as the Rickroll, lolcats, and the “Anonymous” assault on the Church of Scientology-, used its portal to call on its community of users to launch a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) against the Motion Picture Association of America.

The initiative was a great success, with anonymous and private users joining in the attack at the appointed time. In the case of the attack against the RIAA, the combined efforts of Internet users led to 37 interruptions in the service with a total of one hour 37 minutes downtime of the organization’s Web services.

The planning and coordination, with the portal as the unique focal point for coordination and operations, gave instructions to users throughout the weekend, indicating the specific time to launch the attacks as well as the target IP address.

Similarly, they tried to Google bomb a phrase accusing the president of the MPAA of “child molestation” and insinuating that he belonged to a pedophile ring. One of the attacks also targeted the Indian software company contracted by these organizations to close down the free file-sharing sites.

“Anonymous users are now targeting the British Phonographic Industry. And a new call has been put out to initiate a new attack on September 20, at 16:00 GMT, which we will be following closely and posting regular updates”, explains Corrons.

Details of the attacks, which have been monitored in real-time by our researcher Sean-Paul Correll are available on our blog.