The official website of the United States Senate was infiltrated this past weekend by a secretive collective of hackers intent on initiating war with the government. And war just might be what they will get.
The group, known as Lulz Security (LulzSec), breached a public part of the Senate’s website, but did not move beyond a firewall that protected more sensitive information (i.e. a treasure trove of extra Anthony Wiener penis photos). The security apparatus for the Senate, the Sergeant at Arms Office, assured the media that no sensitive information of any individual Senator was stolen or altered. “The server they got into is for public access and is in the public side” explained deputy sergeant at arms Martina Bradford.
LulzSec, on the other hand, was quite braggadocious as it trumpeted the cyber raid. Buoyed by previous successful hacks on the websites of Sony Corp., the Fox Network and the Public Broadcast System, the group posted online the files it snagged. The documents listed appear to buttress the government’s claims that the info was not of a sensitive nature, but this did not deter LulzSec from taunting its foe further.
"We don't like the U.S. government very much.” LulzSec declared in a statement. “This is a small, just-for-kicks release of some internal data from Senate.gov - is this an act of war, gentlemen? Problem?"
Apparently, it is. The Pentagon announced recently that computer-based attacks emanating from a foreign country are tantamount to acts of war. Military brass is latching onto the policy of “equivalence”, where a cyber assault that results in death and destruction would be eligible for the use of comparable military force. Warned a Pentagon official: "If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks."
But where does this leave stateless collectives such as LulzSec and the more infamous Anonymous? This offensive, coupled with Anonymous’ new mission of toppling Ben Bernanke and the US Federal Reserve, is a direct affront to the security of the government. What’s stopping the Pentagon from including these factions as enemies of the state warranting a forceful response? In the Age of Terrorism in which we all live, it is hardly a stretch to imagine LulzSec and Anonymous being branded as the al-Qaeda and Hezbollah of the Internet.
While these geeky guerillas may circumvent the equivalence directive, a foreign country has been implicated in a recent cyber attack on a Washington-based international organization. The International Monetary Fund, long a tool of US monetary interests, was hit a few months ago. In fact, Google announced to the world that the attack came from China. Officials in Beijing refuted the claim, but if proven true, would this incident necessitate a violent counteraction from the Pentagon? The IMF is not officially a segment of the US government, but if equivalence can be expanded to include Lulz and Anonymous, surely a US-affiliated organization could be subject to Uncle Sam’s protection. And just in case you’re wondering, the attack happened before former IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn raped that lady. Don’t start thinking China developed a conscience or anything.
Perhaps these World of Warcraft refugees tired of battling imaginary beasties and set their sights on a –real-life Leviathan. For now, the US government probably views LulzSec and Anonymous as little more than annoying pests, but their shenanigans might upgrade their status to that of enemy combatants. China, too, is angling to use their mastery of internet manipulation to compromise valuable information. It clearly poses a more severe threat than a few basement-dwelling dorks. Still, the enigmatic eggheads have rightly earned commendation as well as condemnation for their subversive and possibly traitorous activities. This is how the Millennial Generation rebels against the government: hacking in exchange for marching. And it could be a far more effective strategy in bringing about real change. Social networks such as Facebook and Twitter (as well as the direct efforts of Anonymous) helped bring down dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. Can a revolution be instigated by netizens rather than citizens? Will firefights be replaced by firewalls as the basis for future wars? If so, then expect the next Tahrir Square to take place on 4chan. You can also ignore television; this time, the Revolution will be “liked”.
Lulz Security performed a cyber attack on the official website of the CIA on June 15, putting the site down temporarily. It was merely a flesh wound similar to the Senate hack, as they only pentrated its public portion. Don’t worry, guys; you’ll hit paydirt one of these days.