Anonymous, Chinese Hackers, RickRolling and ISIS

Anonymous Announces Plan to Attack ISIS Following Paris Killings


Anonymous, the murky global and leaderless hacking group has struck out on a campaign to disrupt ISIS’ sophisticated use of the Internet and social media. It claims to have disabled over 11,000 identified ISIS Twitter accounts with looped Rick Astley videos. For those of you not familiar with Rick Astley, he was a 1980’s British pop star of limited talent, whose videos are sometimes painful to watch.  For unknown reasons, Astley’s videos have been used in a variety of online pranks and hacking incidents since about 2007. So Anonymous did the convenient thing and used old Astley videos, a tactic now known as “RickRolling”, to disrupt and confound ISIS Twitter and other social media accounts.  I like it.  Striking back in this way is probably causing smiles in the French Intelligence Service, U.S. Defense Department, NSA, and GCHQ in the UK.

That said, there has also been sharp criticism of Anonymous in the press this week, notably CBC News in Canada, which quoted a leading cyber hacking author, Gabriella Coleman, the author of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous, that the rush to embrace the group could be premature. She argues that Anonymous has made grievous errors in the past, and causing more harm than good.  A likely reason for this problem is that Anonymous creed is that it is leaderless, as its logo graphically depicts a headless figure.  That said, I disagree. This is exactly the kind of action that has the potential to take down ISIS. Anonymous has even posted a guide advising others on how they too can hack ISIS.  This is “crowdhacking,” or perhaps a new people-driven version of a bot driven “distributed denial of service attack” (DDS) attack.  I believe the civilized World is still figuring out how to exist and survive in the cyber world, which is continuing to evolve, and even sadly to balkanize. I like this Anonymous approach.

Two Chinese citizens were killed in the Mali Radisson Hotel attack, and another at the Bataclan in Paris. This has led the Chinese government to join the unanimous UN Security Council resolution denouncing the attacks and promising global collaboration and increased efforts to stop ISIS. China is well-known now for the People’s Liberation Army’s Unit 61398 in Shanghai, and its sophisticated cyber hacking capabilities and exploits, as well as those of murky independent Chinese hackers. But The PRC has so far refused to say exactly what it plans to do about the killings of Chinese citizens.  It seems to me that the UN Security Council members should now strongly urge the Chinese to join in the cyber battle against ISIS.

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Anonymous torments ISIS with ‘Rickrolls’

Updated 7:29 am, Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Anonymous is wielding a new weapon of mass disruption in its ongoing social media war with the Islamic State — Rick Astley videos.

The “hacktivist” group has been flooding all pro-Isis hashtags with countless videos of the red-headed bass-baritone, according to a recent tweet from the #OpParis account.

Anyone familiar with 1980s music videos knows how unsettling watching Astley sing and dance can be. In fact, as Dazed notes, tricking people to watch his “Never Gonna Give You Up” has been a staple of viruses, protests and other online pranks since 2007.

It’s called “Rickrolling.”

Whenever some Islamic State account attempts to spread a message or try to get a topic trending, the subject with be barraged with Rick videos from the late ’80s.

ISIS, which relies heavily on social media, is not taking Anonymous’ tactic lightly. It already released instructions aimed at thwarting the hackers after Anonymous posted information on 11,000 jihadist Twitter accounts, prompting them to shut down.


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