'Fax Bombs' Used Against Wikileaks Foes

Dennis Faas's picture

Internet activists that stand behind "Operation Payback" have waged war on corporations deemed enemies of the Wikileaks web site, the non-profit organization that publishes otherwise unavailable documents from anonymous news sources and leaks.

Distributed Denial of Service Attacks Flood Targets

What began as a vengeful campaign intended to target opponents of Internet piracy, Operation Payback utilizes distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against their enemies.

In short, a DDoS attack occurs when many computers band together to flood a target computer (usually a web server) with requests. The intent is to overwhelm the target computer, so that it is unable to perform its normal functions, such as serving up a web page, or processing credit cards, for example.

Volunteers Called Upon to Spam Corporate Fax Machines

In one undisclosed online chatroom, group members of Operation Payback have posted the fax numbers of about a half-dozen corporations and are calling on volunteers to fill these fax machines with unsolicited messages, using such free online fax services as MyFax.com and FaxZero.com. In accessing corporate sites, volunteers are being asked to use anonymizing software (such as the Tor Project) to avoid being traced by authorities. (Source: computerworld.com)

Already, 73 chatroom members have volunteered to implement the fax machine attacks.

While the three main targets (Visa, MasterCard International, and PayPal) still suffer the traditional DDoS attacks that have become synonymous with the Operation Payback campaign, the fax machine bombardment serves to put added pressure on these companies to resume donation processing for Wikileaks.

Church of Scientology Targeted in 2008

This is not the first time Operation Payback has used this tactic. In January 2008, members were encouraged to carry out a fax-bomb against the Church of Scientology, which has since become a preferred target. The Wikileaks bombardment is somewhat different, in that the attacks are being done with a purpose in mind. (Source: techworld.com)

Fax Annoyance Affecting Targets

Already the fax annoyance has had an effect on its targets. A list has been made of fax numbers that are no longer responsive as a result of the spam bombardment.

While security officials admit that it is not very difficult to stop such an offense, corporations must still scramble to keep their infrastructure up-to-date and ready to combat such problems. As a result, the real victims become those customers who wish to use the fax service for its intended purpose, and thus, are unable to do so as a result of these attacks.

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