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Study Finds DDoS Attacks Threaten Human Rights

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the no-farmville-no-peace dept.

The Internet 118

CWmike writes "A new study warned this week that DDoS attacks launched against sites run by human rights and dissident media groups threaten to knock free speech off the Web. The study, conducted by Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, showed that such attacks frequently knocked such sites offline. Of the sites surveyed by the center, 62% were victimized by DDoS attacks in the last 12 months, and 61% experienced unexplained downtime."

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118 comments

First DDoS post! (1)

FunkyRider (1128099) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647322)

DDoS! DDoS!

Its not DDoS ... (0)

PPH (736903) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647354)

... if Comcast [slashdot.org] or MasterCard [slashdot.org] does it.

Re:Its not DDoS ... (1)

vandelais (164490) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647386)

Boo hoo. You had me and then you lost me.

Re:Its not DDoS ... (2)

maccodemonkey (1438585) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647392)

Neither link meets definition of a DDoS attack. By definition, a DDoS attack is a third party forcing you to deny service by overloading your server. That's entirely different than an organization voluntarily deciding to not do business with a group.

Re:Its not DDoS ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647644)

Most importantly, it's not distributed.

Re:Its not DDoS ... (0)

West VA Flamer (638423) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647970)

I am confounded and intrigued by your view of semantics, and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

Re:Its not DDoS ... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648016)

"Semantics" has apparently become Internet shorthand for "I am bitter about your statement being completely accurate"

Re:Its not DDoS ... (2)

cheater512 (783349) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648510)

They are actually DoS by the traditional meaning of the term.

Mastercard is denying service to Wikileaks. Not a actual internet attack but same effect.

Re:Its not DDoS ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647476)

Correct, those stories have nothing to do with DDoS.

What exactly is your point supposed to be?

Re:Its not DDoS ... (1)

rpresser (610529) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647866)

Maybe he was just stating a fact. He did say "Its not DDoS" after all.

Re:Its not DDoS ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647728)

CBS News had a piece on homegrown terror tonight. The nations need to limit the Internet access to Islamic thoughts that influence wannabe terrorists who are mere impressionable kids in the USA. Young and dumb!

All religions are not the same. A peaceful Hindu would not hurt a fly. Aztecs would cut the hearts out of a fearful virgins with stone knives in the worship of their God.
Islamic terrorists who would strap explosives to their body and kill women and children and other Islamic worshipers of a different cult rank up there with the now extinct Aztecs.

Human rights should include the freedom from religious terror in every country. If that requires drastic action then let it be done, even if it limits Internet freedom.

 

Re:Its not DDoS ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647978)

>A peaceful Hindu would not hurt a fly.

Ladies and gentleman, here is a textbook example of the fallacy known as "No True Scotsman".

Re:Its not DDoS ... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648944)

It's not a true textbook example...

This just in (1)

igreaterthanu (1942456) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647372)

Preventing people from accessing a web site prevents other people from reading the content of said site.

Re:This just in (2)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647402)

I think they are trying to make the idea of "X fights Y's Fire with Fire" news.

Honestly, when people advocating Free Speech DDoS a site, they ARE inviting people to DDoS Sites on Free Speech. Regardless if you agree with the moral implications of either scenario - you have to admit it shouldn't be all that surprising.

Re:This just in (2)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648006)

Many don't realize that a DDOS hurts more then your target. Most places use external data centers. A really bad DDOS can bring down a data center then hit many other sources, which could be more vital information then a silly web page, saying stuff that people don't want to read.

Anyone else here wondering? (5, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647380)

There was no study when Georgia (the country, not the US state) was DDoSed during a "dispute" with another country that's gonna remain unnamed for now. Well, maybe because you just don't piss on countries with almost as many nukes as the US.

There was no study when the Iranian government was DDoSed during the 2009 elections, pretty much kicking the Iran off the web. But I guess that's ok, they're "evil" after all, right?

There was no study when wikileaks was under a DDoS just a month ago, probably because they are now evil too (I watch too much Fox, I admit it).

But suddenly, when companies come under a DDoS that terminated business and froze funds of an organization that fights FOR more transparency and freedom of information, a DDoS becomes an attack on the freedom of speech.

Doubleplusgood timing!

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647434)

No - wait... What am I supposed to be wondering? I can't answer your question specifically unless you designate what it is I'm supposed to be wondering.

Unless you just mean wondering in general, in which case, yes, I'm wondering what it is you were wondering, so it's like meta-wondering.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647480)

Wonder what you feel like! I leave that to you. I said I watch Fox news, I didn't say I am them!

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649802)

Get all the nigger dicks out of your mouth first

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (3, Insightful)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647626)

So, a study of groups which are all pretty much the opposite of banking and financial institutions must clearly be secretly linked to an attempt to discredit people attacking the banks? I might need to get more tin foil, but when Russia 'attacked' Georgia or Wikileaks was under attack, the concept of DDoSing hadn't been in the news so much. Those were basically treated as curiosities on the sidelines of more major news coverage. After all, what's a little bandwidth choking when tanks and bombs are also involved?

The widespread, highly-publicised attacks against major corporations probably brought more attention on the subject, which previously had been something that was smaller scale and used either for tactical or strategic reasons, either by governments or crime rings, or maybe from time-to-time for personal revenge. Maybe its just the type of news sources I read, but there have been many, many stories about the Anonymous attacks and it seems to be getting coverage across the board.

Given the heightened awareness, is it any wonder that social scientists might start to take a broader look at it? Besides, this is still a pretty far cry from "attacking Visa is an attack on Human Rights!", although the bullshit title for this posting would make one think that. They're saying that many human rights and alternative media sites (one might include Wikileaks under that heading) are under an ever-increasing pressure from attacks like this, which is probably true, and has nothing to do with Visa, Mastercard, PayPal, etc.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

HungryHobo (1314109) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647908)

the recent actions of anonymous merely opened up the issue of whether a DDoS can be considered a legitimate form of non-violent political protest.
Hell I'd never even considered the possibility before but there's a compelling argument for it.

This merely affirms the point that any tool can be used for multiple purposes and by different people.
Protesters can have a sit in in front of a store, gangs of teenagers can sit looking menacing scaring off customers.
etc etc.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647920)

Then the question should rather be, why did those Anonymous attacks get so much coverage? Compared to the attacks on Georgia or Iran, where the countries were pretty much off the web, they did fairly little actual damage, if any. Two companies were for a few hours unreachable, without actually interrupting their business.

Why suddenly the coverage? It hat near zero impact on their operation. Georgia was offline for days. Iran was struggling to get blogs online. MC and Visa didn't even issue press statements IIRC.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

bsDaemon (87307) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649006)

With Visa and Mastercard, it was pretty much the whole story, though. There was no violence in the street and shootings like in Iran. I can't remember if the Georgia incident coincided with the brief shooting war or was just around the same time, but as I said in my original post, news of internet infrastructure being impaired isn't going to carry as much weight as images of Russian tanks rolling down the streets.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649254)

Sure, but it ain't like the last week was so dry that you have no option but to report about some webpages being down. I'd say riots in Athens with politicians being beaten up, storms in California that cause houses to follow the real estate market, the British royals being attacked (not just the usual stuff, assault) over tuition fees, Nobel Prize goes to Chinese dissident and the ensuing turmoil because China and a few other countries boycott the NP ceremonies, a foiled bombing in Baltimore, Hal Rogers becomes chairman of the House Appropriations Committee and wants to eliminate "earmarking", and that's just what I got out of ABC.

I've seen far more important and relevant "internet news" getting ignored for far less interesting stuff.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649734)

Then the question should rather be, why did those Anonymous attacks get so much coverage?

I thought that should be pretty obvious: Wikileaks and the attacks on Mastercard and Visa are more directly related to American concerns.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650002)

Well, first of all, the attacks of 2009 [wikipedia.org] should have been WAY more of a concern, since they not only hit the US but the US media. Still, almost no reports that I could remember.

Also, it's not only the US where the current DDoSs are being reported at length.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650130)

Well, first of all, the attacks of 2009 [wikipedia.org] should have been WAY more of a concern, since they not only hit the US but the US media

But those weren't related to a hot-topic US media story like Wikileaks.

Also, it's not only the US where the current DDoSs are being reported at length.

Again, easily explained. The rest of the world tends to repeat the US media. The US media does not tend to repeat the rest of the world.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648036)

You think they analyzed data from 2009 to August 2010 and rushed this report out in 2 weeks? Even supposing this report was indeed rushed out in 2 weeks, why the hell wouldn't they cite Operation Payback, especially if that's the point they were trying to get across? Hell, in this article they even point to the DDoS attacks against Wikileaks as a point for their claim. Your paranoia is absolutely absurd and, quite frankly, stupid.

Finally, a DDoS is an attempt to prevent a group from communicating on the Internet. That absolutely is an attempt to deny said group their freedom of speech. Just because there was an attack against a group that you disagree with does not make it any less so.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648784)

Well, I don't know about you, but when I'm trying to get a point across, I rarely call those that I want to address "evil". They tend not to listen when you do that.

The message is "DDoS is bad because it hurts freedom of speech and human rights". Interesting, it seems access to the internet is a human right now. I'll remember that next time I hear about three-strikes laws, I guess they're a violation of human rights now... but I digress.

I also neither said any of the DDoSs were justified or "right". All I said is that I really admire their timing. And that it leaves a rather ugly aftertaste.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (2)

realityimpaired (1668397) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648472)

http://www.metronews.ca/ottawa/world/article/725360--assange-complains-he-s-victim-of-leaks--page0 [metronews.ca]

Hypocrisy goes both ways, it seems.

Though I do sincerely doubt that the study has anything to do with Wikileaks at all. Especially considering that none of the sites that they looked at were involved in the Wikileaks thing, and are, instead, other sites that have been DDoS'd in the last year. As another poster pointed out, the best link that can be drawn is merely one of publicity: people know that DDoS exist thanks to the actions of Anonymous, but that's about it.

Don't let reality get in the way of your fanatical devotion to Wikileaks' infallible and unassailable moral high ground, however. It's rather quaint.

(and no, I don't think that Wikileaks has actually broken any laws, or that Assange should be thrown in jail. I'm just sick of hearing from people who don't seem to understand that the world isn't black and white. the world is full of grey area, and both sides of that debate have made some bad choices.)

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648760)

I never said Assange is the saviour of the world. I also don't remember saying that Wikileaks is infallible.

What I said is that I find it suspicious that a study like this suddenly surfaces a week after the Anonymous attacks, while every other DDoS in history came and went without much coverage or scientific observation.

Also it's interesting what conclusions they came to. It's not that DDoSs hurt business. It's not that DDoSs puts undue strain on the internet infrastructure. It's not that DDoSs are a security risk (because both, unwilling and willing participants have to install software that is not under their control). The conclusion is that a DDoS is the anathema to free speech.

Curiously EXACTLY the concern of those participating in the recent DDoS.

Pardon me if I get a tad bit suspicious. I guess I've been for too long on this planet not to.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

RMS Eats Toejam (1693864) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649234)

I never said Assange is the saviour of the world.

No, but you want to suck his cock and that's bad enough. Get the fuck out of here and take your 1984 style conspiracy theories with you, you fucking little worm.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648524)

But suddenly, when companies come under a DDoS that terminated business and froze funds of an organization that fights FOR more transparency and freedom of information, a DDoS becomes an attack on the freedom of speech.

No, this is just a case of a Computerworld 'journalist' editorialising and drawing false equivalencies between the DDoS attacks on WikiLeaks and other human rights organisations and those conducted by Anonymous. The Actual Report [harvard.edu] explicitly does not discuss the banks:

Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is an increasingly common Internet phenomenon capable of silencing Internet speech, usually for a brief interval but occasionally for longer. In this paper, we explore the specific phenomenon of DDoS attacks on independent media and human rights organizations, seeking to understand the nature and frequency of these attacks, their efficacy, and the responses available to sites under attack. Our report offers advice to independent media and human rights sites likely to be targeted by DDoS but comes to the uncomfortable conclusion that there is no easy solution to these attacks for many of these sites, particularly for attacks that exhaust network bandwidth.

TL;DR: The Berkman report is talking only about the stifling effect of DDoS attacks on alternative media and human right organisations. Banks don't come into it at all -except in the fevered imaginations of certain 'tech journalism' hacks.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

grcumb (781340) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648788)

... and here I am, correcting myself.

Having read some of the report, the narrative does actually deal at length on the Anonymous attacks, in spite of the fact that the summary states that "independent media and human rights organizations" are their focus.

So, please don't mod parent up. It's misleading. My apologies; I shouldn't have trusted the authors' summary.

Re:Anyone else here wondering? (1)

bm_luethke (253362) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649748)

There is an old statement out there about it that has been around in one form another for - well - about as long as people have been around.

I'll tell it the way I first heard it (late 80's): "A death of another is comedy, a paper cut on my finger is a tragedy".

That pretty much sums up a great deal of our attitudes going on now. DDoS someone you do not like and it is Power to the People, the only way we can fight back, how *dare* you prosecute them. DDoS someone we like and where are the feds, these people need decades in jail as it is obvious these are private servers - this is a travesty and is near treason!!!! Further I think this attitude is *not* seen as being in conflict with itself and most are confused others do not share it, it isn't a convenient argument but is a truly held belief.

Personally I think what will eventually be seen is that civilization only moves forward faster than its core principles do. This means that whilst the core principles move forward in the long run, short term we move ahead, collapse back behind them, and then move ahead of them again. While that average moves forward at a nice smooth pace the actual in this moment level of civilization swings back and forth. I think we are nearing a swing backwards as these ideas need to be truly internalized and not rationalized to whatever the individual wants at the moment.

Point of fact: DDoS does not suppress information (4, Insightful)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647384)

As we've learned with the recent round of attacks in the news, the effects are brief and leave no long-term impact on the targets.

The threat to free speech isn't DDoS, it's censorship.

Re:Point of fact: DDoS does not suppress informati (2)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647442)

What is censorship but a DoS, a denial-of-service? Ok, it's centralized, I give you that.

Re:Point of fact: DDoS does not suppress informati (1)

Senes (928228) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647542)

A denial of service attack means launching junk traffic at a site to temporarily monopolize its serving capacity and thus deny the service to legitimate users; the service can resume as soon as the cannons stop firing.

Censorship means using force to permanently remove suppress something as a means of dictating what is and isn't allowed.

Re:Point of fact: DDoS does not suppress informati (1)

zn0k (1082797) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647716)

That's a very narrow definition of denial of service attacks, and not usually used in security circles. The class of denials of service attacks is usually assumed to include every attack that, well, denies you the opportunity to use a service. That would include blowing up a transformer that is instrumental to providing power to the service that you're trying to consume, or setting the server room on fire and burning down the servers, which may well contain the only copy of the service they're hosting if the admins are particularly stupid.

Denial of service attacks don't necessarily temporarily deny access to the service, it can absolutely be permanent.

Re:Point of fact: DDoS does not suppress informati (1)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647896)

Censorship is not permanent. It only feels that way since it usually lasts for more than a few days. This is the main difference to a DoS, which usually lasts only a very brief time compared to a censorship law. But if censorship was permanent, a lot of things could not be discussed in most of Europe.

The difference is mainly that the actor is a different one. Censorship is usually installed by some kind of governing body, be it an actual government telling what its citizens may or may not see, a church saying what its parishioners may or may not view or parents doing it for their kids.

A DoS is usually executed by a person or group without governing power, to protest against something or to demonstrate.

The result is the same: Both temporarily disallow the use of a certain resource.

Re:Point of fact: DDoS does not suppress informati (1)

mijelh (1111411) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648352)

I agree with you that DoS can be against freedom of speech, but the fact that censorship is applied by the government makes a huge difference in several ways. First, with censorship not only you are disallowed of using certain resource (like publishing a web or book), but you are also disallowed of *expressing* the idea in any way. Then, the state has the monopoly of violence, and if you disobey a law they can ultimately use that violence on you ( by putting you in jail, for instance), while an unsuccessful DoS attacker can only resign him/herself.

Re:Point of fact: DDoS does not suppress informati (1)

eulernet (1132389) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648200)

The threat to free speech isn't DDoS, it's censorship.

And a greater threat is self-censorship !

Human rights? (2)

Stregano (1285764) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647410)

So DDoS'ing visa.com affects human rights? This did not mess up their back end systems for processing transactions or anything. All that happened was that people could not access the front-end, but it effected human rights? Fail post is good at posting fail articles

Re:Human rights? (2)

countSudoku() (1047544) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647652)

You gotta take "news" from any of the *world.com sites with a large grain of salt. They love to launch multi-page spams tying into this week's flavor of "exciting new trend and/or development" for a gain in traffic, the quality and sanity come second and third, or not at all.

Re:Human rights? (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647918)

Agreed.
It's kinda like the saying, "guns don't kill people, people kill people." The DDoS attacks themselves aren't hurting human rights groups (like the heading leads one to believe), but instead there are people using DDoS attacks to threaten such groups.
Or it's like saying that, "Space shuttle launches harm grizzly bears." If I read that, I'd think there was something going on with space shuttle launches that were damaging to the world's grizzly bear population, when the article just has a bunch of info about a grizzly bear strapped to the nose of a space shuttle doesn't survive the flight.

not so far fetched if you live under a rock (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647416)

the manifesto for this propaganda must have been something like this.

Wikileaks + Anonymous = DDoS

DDoS = First Amendment right threat

Outcome: Public support for locking up Wikileaks & Anonymous in proxy jurisdiction until it blows over / they die of brain atrophy / yeast infections.

Re:not so far fetched if you live under a rock (0)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647520)

Huh? Since when is 1st amendment violations something that the mouth breathers worry about?

Try to craft something around the 2nd, then they'll care.

DDOS is free speech. (2, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647420)

DDOS is a form of free speech, just like a lunch counter sit-in. Yes, they take some sites off line for a bit, but they're always back. As long as you're not using an illegally obtained bot-net, you are merely exercising your normal rights as a user of the internet. You're just requesting content, just like the rest of your 10,000 friends.

Sure, the people doing a DDOS could get their own website to get their message out. But who would view it? A DDOS sends a message that can't be ignored.

No it isn't (3, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647554)

Not unless stopping someone from speaking is free speech. If you are standing at a podium, speaking your mind, and I rush you and duct tape your mouth shut is that free speech? I think you'd have to agree no. Even though it can be argued to express an idea (that being that I don't like what you are saying) the effect is to silence you, not to counter your voice with my own.

Shutting down someone for saying something you don't like isn't free speech.

Re:No it isn't (1)

insertwackynamehere (891357) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649608)

How the hell is this not modded up when the parent of it is? The gp is rationalizing offensive maneuvers as passive protesting akin to peaceful civil rights rallies. The parent meanwhile shoots holes through this.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (4, Insightful)

Caerdwyn (829058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647604)

Crippling a company's ability to do business online is identical to welding their front door shut so nobody can get in. You can picket a company but you're not allowed to physically prevent people from getting in. It's the online equivalent of book-burning, except you're burning the books and the bookstore. There is no "right" to do that, online or otherwise.

It's not free speech. It's a crime. DDoS "hacktivists" are denying the rights of others to visit that website, and are no different at all from the thugs operating China's Great Firewall or the religious freakjobs dictating Australia's and Iran's Internet content. A zealot is a zealot, and they all need to be treated as the threat to freedom and human rights they are, regardless of their leanings. Their methods are the same: "I will decide for everybody else what they are forbidden to see, and use any means necessary to impose my will on others".

Re:DDOS is free speech. (1)

SheeEttin (899897) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647762)

The GP is wrong, but you're wrong too.

The closest analogy I've seen is the lunch counter sit-in, but that's still not quite right, because the people who participated in sit-ins left peacefully when the police escorted them from the premises. The police can't escort you from paypal.com.
So that's the difference between a sit-in and DDoS.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647800)

Exactly. How people think this is free speech is beyond me.

Real forms of free speech such as setting up a "protest" website detailing why people should avoid those companies is largely seen as ineffective by those committing the DDoS so they opt for the more direct method of "blocking the door" if you will.
To claim otherwise as the parent poster ("yeah, they take some sites off line for a bit, but they're always back") is asinine and heavily ironic. I suggest Hatta chain himself to his local business' door and then see how far the argument gets him.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648226)

A DDOS is like cutting someone's phone line. It seems like it should be a crime, but having your website go down for a few days is now a human rights violation? Puh-lease. This stinks of a vested interest trying to increase government power by issuing fear-mongering propaganda. The majority of DDOS attacks can be mitigated fairly easily; they're more of a nuisance value.

"Human rights and independent media sites are under constant attack," said Ethan Zuckerman

What!? Absolutely blatant rubbish.

Zuckerman's team also polled more than 300 human rights and independent media sites around the world, and convinced 45, or 14% of the total, to talk about DDoS attacks.

Note the implication that the rest were "afraid" somehow to "speak out", as if to imply all of them have been hit but it's some shadowy secret. More like most the site owners had better things to do, or didn't know a DDOS from a bar of soap. The methodology of self-respondence also sounds highly flawed, I bet half of them were probably hit by plain old scripted hacks, but went and called it a DDOS because they don't know the difference. (If you've ever seen a self-reporting poll that asks users e.g. 'which version of Office (or Windows) are you running' you'll find most don't even know the difference between the Office version and the Windows version, these are the people who are being polled on their sites being DDOS'd?). There is also no control group apparently, i.e. did he measure if the incidence of attacks is higher for human rights sites compared to the general population of websites? Also, how does he define a "human rights" site, does he include e.g. pro-Islam "charity" sites?

Admittedly I haven't read the report, but given it already stinks like shit, I'd probably just get my fingers dirty.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648342)

OK, now I have skimmed the report, and voila:

"We propose a broad public discussion of a range of policy responses to the rise of DDOS attacks against independent media organizations and human rights groups, with a view toward a sustainable long-term approach that balances the range of legitimate interests involved."

Translation, 'government needs more power to regulate the Internet'.

They do precede that with some actual technical tips that can be used to mitigate against most DDoS attacks, interestingly enough. Thing is it's most trivial for the average site owner to work around; their speech has not been 'blocked' as there are always myriad other channels easily utilized (even the report admits this). And it's not more of a "human rights violation" just because a human rights website was chosen, and I propose that their specific sampling of so-called "human rights sites" was designed specifically to give the report a human rights "spin" in an attempt to justify the premise, i.e. greater government control.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (1)

jibjibjib (889679) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648548)

A couple of points:

> It's the online equivalent of book-burning, except you're burning the books and the bookstore.

No it's not. It's the equivalent of standing outside the bookstore and not letting anyone in. I'm not saying that legitimizes it, just that your analogy is poor.

> religious freakjobs dictating Australia's and Iran's Internet content.

Australia's internet is, in practice, as free as other Western countries. There was a proposal to filter it which wasn't implemented. The proposal was motivated by politics and fear, not by religion. Australia is a secular country. It's completely untrue to say that Australia's internet content is currently being dictated by "religious freakjobs" like Iran's.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649310)

Crippling a company's ability to do business online is identical to welding their front door shut so nobody can get in. You can picket a company but you're not allowed to physically prevent people from getting in. It's the online equivalent of book-burning, except you're burning the books and the bookstore. There is no "right" to do that, online or otherwise.

It's not free speech. It's a crime. DDoS "hacktivists" are denying the rights of others to visit that website, and are no different at all from the thugs operating China's Great Firewall or the religious freakjobs dictating Australia's and Iran's Internet content. A zealot is a zealot, and they all need to be treated as the threat to freedom and human rights they are, regardless of their leanings. Their methods are the same: "I will decide for everybody else what they are forbidden to see, and use any means necessary to impose my will on others".

This post is filled with hyperbole. Why is this modded +5?
It's like welding the door shut? Yeah, except the attackers have to keep up their attack, and when they start to get bored, the website is back up again.
It's like burning the bookstore? Why are you acting as if a DDoS attack somehow causes permanent damage to the website? I hope you know the internet isn't REALLY a series of tubes.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (2)

rdnetto (955205) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650210)

Actually, a DDOS is like filling the business' premises with protesters (or having them crowd around the entrance) so that no one can enter.
It doesn't damage the server in the same sense that welding a door shut does, but it does deny access using non-aggressive means.

Re:DDOS is free speech. (1)

sycodon (149926) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647628)

So you really think that Anon carries out its attacks buy sitting at the keyboard clicking the refresh button again and again?

Re:DDOS is free speech. (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647780)

Is it really relevant if they do it manually or automatically?

Re:DDOS is free speech. (1)

dangitman (862676) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649758)

A DDOS sends a message that can't be ignored.

Firstly, a DDOS doesn't send any message apart from "somebody is trying to shut down your website." By its very nature, a DDOS does not send any other message - it could be happening for any number of reasons.

Secondly, they are easily ignored. DDOS attacks happen all the time, and they are usually ignored by everybody apart from the technical staff who have to deal with them. They almost never make the headlines.

ignorant hypocrites (1)

MichaelKristopeit321 (1963760) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647432)

free speech advocates want users to silence their streams of requests? how about: STOP LISTENING TO THEM.

those pesky commies (0)

wasabu (1502975) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647490)

the manifesto for this propaganda must have been something like this:

DDoS = First Amendment threat

Wikileaks + Anonymous = DDoS

Outcome: Public support for locking up Wikileaks & Anonymous in proxy jurisdiction until it blows over / they die of old age / die of brain atrophy or yeast infections.

What human rights groups? (4, Insightful)

VGR (467274) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647592)

Um, what human rights groups are being assaulted by DDoS attacks? The article mentions only a few groups, and the closest things to human rights groups in that list are a Vietnamese environmental protest group and a Russian independent newspaper. And honestly, I can think of a dozen things off the top of my head that could get a group DDoS'd when dealing with Russia.

So I went and skimmed the actual report [harvard.edu] discussed by the article. (No, I didn't read all 66 pages of it.) It doesn't seem to reference any groups other than those mentioned in the article.

I have no doubt that DDoS attacks can be a threat to human rights sites, but so far I don't see any.

And I am having a hard time avoiding the conclusion that the article is deliberately conflating the pro-WikiLeaks attacks with attacks on "human rights."

you must be new here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648236)

Slashdot's editors specialize in fear-mongering pieces without any verifiable facts.

Regardless (1)

aliquis (678370) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648292)

DDoS attacks at sites working against WikiLeaks rather strengthen human rights.

Slightly off topic though. (And no, I didn't RTFA.)

sensationalism (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647658)

...just a tad don't you think? Aspects of certain Govts. are doing far more towards this effect than DDOS attacks.
I mean really, threatening human rights? Sounds more like another rallying flag than anything.

(don't) DDoS the damn media covering this crap (2)

jeffliott (1558799) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647722)

The public reaction to the most recent DDoS activities is far more alarming than the DDoSes themselves. Sure, people are trying to silence speech they do not agree with, but the fact that they are successful means these sites need the attention of a network/infrastructure admin, not the media. Once these attacks become irrelevant, they will stop, along with the sensationalist media that has accompanied them. I might be wrong, but I think all this media coverage has just made the problem worse.

Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34647748)

first, wall street journal asks whether do we REALLY need net neutrality, then, harvard puts out that the reaction of THE PEOPLE against the control mechanisms of established wealthy, are stifling 'free speech'.

apparently, the censorship that has been tried to effect by visa, mc, paypal, amazon, banks, american government, is not stifling free speech. but, the reaction AGAINST it, is. the VERY people that are supposed to have free speech, are being restricted, and when they react to it adversely and fiercely, it becomes 'stifling free speech'.

you gotta love corporate capitalism. even science works in your way, through connections and donations.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648098)

harvard puts out that the reaction of THE PEOPLE against the control mechanisms of established wealthy, are stifling 'free speech'.

Why does it matter what their opinions are? Free speech is for everybody and every opinion.

the VERY people that are supposed to have free speech, are being restricted

Again, EVERYBODY is supposed to have free speech, not just the people who agree with you.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648124)

Why does it matter what their opinions are? Free speech is for everybody and every opinion. Again, EVERYBODY is supposed to have free speech, not just the people who agree with you.

quite so. however the people who do not agree with me, are wanting to suppress my disagreement with them through capitalist mechanics, in this instance.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (1)

servognome (738846) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648402)

quite so. however the people who do not agree with me, are wanting to suppress my disagreement with them through capitalist mechanics, in this instance.

Which is their right of free association. They can choose not to do business with a company or organization, just as individuals or other groups have the right to boycott something they don't agree with.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648512)

Which is their right of free association. They can choose not to do business with a company or organization, just as individuals or other groups have the right to boycott something they don't agree with.

yeah, surely. except that in all fields of life there are at most 4 major conglomerates, ALL of which pursue the same policy, monopolizing the fields they are in, preventing entry, and eventually forcing their practices as 'industry' standard.

in middle ages you could also choose to move to somewhere else if you didnt want to live under a feudal lord, in some countries. curiously, wherever you go, feudal lords were ruling the land.

it is a foolish belief that you have, regarding 'choosing not to do business with'. make a test - tomorrow attempt to buy a cleaning product which doesnt belong to unilever, procter&gamble or 2 other major corporation that dominate the cleaning chemicals market. dont be a moron and mistake the brand names you see labeled on the product in big letters - check out the real producer written somewhere below.

I wish you could get modded to "6" (2)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648672)

I am weary of people saying "well, just don't do business with them and the problem will go away like magic". These companies form alliances with their fiercest competitors to make sure that people outside their career field have as little say in what they do as possible.

It won't work on ISPs--switching from Comcast to AT&T won't help much.
It won't work on film makers (I'll just refuse to watch Universal Pictures because they are part of the MPAA! I'll just watch Warner Brothers films instead instead! Oh wait...) It won't work on governments and chemical companies (as you've pointed out).

indeed (2)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648898)

very well said. some people seem to have 'belief'. belief doesnt use logic. they just put their trust in the system, despite the system had always acted to the contrary before, and despite the participants and major players of the system are actually saying that they ARE going to act to the contrary, and against people's freedoms. some people still dont believe they will be able to do that. they ARE able to do that, they have the means, they have the control, they are even buying laws. yet, some people still believe 'everything will work out okay'. because ? well, just 'because' ... against logic and reason, it will just 'work out'. i see it no different than a belief in a religion. they just believe.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648482)

If your "disagreement" is in the form of a DDoS, it's not legal. Sorry, it's a very simple point you fail to grasp.
Or maybe you do and are just a hypocrite, wanting two sets of standards. You know, fight against what you view as "illegal" activity by performing some of your own?

You have no right to force a company (or person for that matter) to comply with, spread, spend money on your viewpoint. That's not free speech.
The idea that cutting off funding to groups performing illegal activities somehow suppresses your disagreement is fucking laughable.

Oh, and please don't say "the PEOPLE", I'm certainly not part of your people, nor do I want to be. I think it's just your way of feeling self-important.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648570)

If your "disagreement" is in the form of a DDoS, it's not legal. Sorry, it's a very simple point you fail to grasp.

if you siege people from all fronts, dmcas, coicas, actas, banks, security agencies, anti terror laws, this, that, and leave the only option for expressing extreme distress for them in the manner of ddos,

they will ddos. period.

everything else is made totally impractical, or infeasible. or illegalized.

You have no right to force a company (or person for that matter) to comply with, spread, spend money on your viewpoint. That's not free speech. The idea that cutting off funding to groups performing illegal activities somehow suppresses your disagreement is fucking laughable.

oh gee, it isnt ?

but, 3-4 major conglomerates can dominate all the aspects of life ranging from news publishing http://tech.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=1867262&cid=34218862 [slashdot.org] to internet connectivity http://tech.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=10/04/18/1318210 [slashdot.org] , implement exact same policies, prevent anything that is not compliant with their own agenda from being proliferated in their feudal domain, essentially limit everyone's freedom of speech to going to a park and getting on top of a chair and yelling at people or talking in between family and friends or a few small online discussion forums (heaven knows for how long), leaving NO practicality of anyone practicing their freedoms without their approval,

and it becomes not only acceptable but legal.

but, when someone besieged, finally feds up, it becomes illegal and fucking laughable.

you are young, and naive.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648132)

The article says nothing even remotely like what you imply it says.

If you didn't read the article, then you're talking out of your ass, and are therefore an idiot.

If you did read the article, then you know for a fact that what you are saying is false, and are therefore a liar.

So which are you; an idiot or a liar? Those are your ONLY possible choices, and any response other than those two (including none) is an unconditional and irretractable admission that it's "both".

you dont get shit (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648208)

the mere title of that article, proposing that ddos attacks threaten human rights, will be used by right wing press to actually effect that propaganda. period.

Re:you dont get shit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34649642)

Both it is, then.

You didn't read the article, and you lied about what the title means.

Re:you dont get shit (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649672)

i read the article, and both the title and contents, are going to be used against concept of ddos. the ddoses that were happening to the human rights sites, actually ANY site, were around for a decade or more. yet, noone came up and said that they threatened free speech up until anonymous started to take down major bank/payment sites as a reaction.

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (1)

perryizgr8 (1370173) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650418)

well played sir, well played!

Re:Wow. get a load of that shitty lobbying !!! (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650636)

I read both the article and the report, and it confirms 110% what unity100 is saying. The article specifically calls for "policy responses" to fix the so-called "problem". The article and report specifically bend over very far backwards to try artificially frame this as a "human rights" issue, even putting "human rights" in the title of the report. This is standard fear-mongering propaganda to push for legislative power in the finest 3rd-world communist tradition.

Humans. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34647964)

Humans are a threat to human rights.

Now stop trying to seize control of my thrice-damned Internets, you fascist bastards.

After reading the ' study' I am worried (1)

santax (1541065) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648144)

About 2 things. They don't see the difference between action and reaction. That, and I'm worried, who the hell is that Dr. A. Hitler?

Not all DDoS attacks are created equal (1)

mykos (1627575) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648496)

It's all in the hands and heart of the user. When the user is a government who controls a botnet the likes of which any casual bot herder could only dream of, then yes, it can be a threat to human rights (and a lot of other things, too).

Sensational Headline (2)

RazorSharp (1418697) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648518)

I mean really, how can a study find anything about human rights? It can't even be conclusively said that human rights exist, and even if you believe in them (which I do), it's still questionable what constitutes as a right and what doesn't. Are they talking about negative rights, positive right? It could be argued that one has a right to DDoS a website. Analogy: If a man is speaking in the street, saying things I disagree with, do I not have the right to speak louder than he is, thus drowning him out and suppressing his right to speech? Where does his right to speech trump mine? I don't know the answer to that, but I'm sure one could legitimately argue either way. Rights are such a vague thing, and to be so conclusive about them is pretentious and ignorant. What sensational FUD.

Re:Sensational Headline (1)

BeanThere (28381) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650642)

Not to mention that on the Internet, if your little website host gets clogged by a DDoS, there are hundreds of other online channels you can spread the exact same information -- from the many online blogging services, to Facebook, to torrents, to using mirrors, to the many free website creation and publishing services, to 'all of the above'. Heck, most DDoS's can be mitigated by just getting better hosting, or using static content instead of dynamic content where possible ... basic things and even the sensationalist report admits this (I read it), right before inexplicably and in a spectacular non-sequitir, calling for "policy responses" to address the "problem".

DDoS is Now Irrelevant (1)

Wingit (98136) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648626)

With the FCC passing a law (no wait, they can't) but they wrote it and congress may reprint it, DDoS is no longer important. The government will do it for us.

study should also kindly note (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648710)

1. the same arsenal that powers most ddos can be used to defend against them
2. the internet interprets DDOS as a failure and will gladly reroute to compensate if configured properly
3. most attempts to utilize ddos to oppress human rights to date have failed, with wikileaks resuming full operation in 7 days.

Meaningless data (1)

Dcnjoe60 (682885) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648712)

Since this was not an actual statistical survey you cannot extrapolate the findings to mean anything other than the 62% of the sites they got to talk with them had problems (as stated in the article). Now I understand that it might be difficult to get a statistical sample because sites may not want to participate, but that doesn't make this a valid report. Actually, it is worse than valid, because it implies a problem exists without any real evidence to support it. I would have expected more from Harvard. Surely they still teach statistics and sampling techniques there.

Stupid Children (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34648734)

Yes, stupid children do this shit "OMG I CAN DOWNLOAD THIS AND DO SHIT!" Yeah, stupid children. Please smack them, hard.

Slashdot Effect? (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648816)

How many "DDoS attacks" were in reality too many real people trying to hit the site.

Re:Slashdot Effect? (1)

vaniderstine (1679696) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649558)

I was just logging in to ask the same question. Is there any difference as far as the website owners are concerned? All they can know, unless they're looking for patterns generated by automated scripts, is their site is down (or just very unresponsive.) What would the difference be between a truly evil DDoS of www.mastercard.com, and someone posting a 'get $100 free from MC' link on facebook.com? As far as the network and servers are concerned, NOTHING, their admins can only know that they're at 100% saturation. Try hitting www.irs.gov after 10pm on April 15th. Should everyone trying to do their taxes during the last hour be charged with participating a DDoS attack? So, what IS the difference between the Slashdot effect and a DDoS?

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | more than 3 years ago | (#34648836)

I have to question the methodology of the "study". Of the 300 sites contacted only 45 wanted to talk. Of those 45 only 28 confirmed having been DDosed. Maybe the wanted to talk because they had been DDoSed thereby skewing the results in favour of a sensationalist article. I believe the statistics should be stated as at least 28 out of 300, or 10%, of sites contacted reported DDoS attacks; because that is all they have shown. Ten percent does not make as good a headline as 62%. The real number is probably somewhere between 10% and 62%.

... really now? (2)

The Hatchet (1766306) | more than 3 years ago | (#34649780)

Are we really having this discussion, many christian groups have been caught trying to destroy freedom and secular ideas manually. Their DDoS attacks are people literally banding together in groups to massively just continuously refreshing sites and trying to bring them down, just like they did on that site, what was it, digger? where they burried all stories that weren't extremely pro-religious zeleot in nature. They are all, and have always been, fighting freedom and knowledge in every way possible.

Now this, this load of bull is just trying to take that fact, and relabel all other DDoS attacks, including those to preserve or gain the freedom of speech by waging attacks on those who seek to destroy it. Amazing how hard those bastards will try to make everything against them turn into something against everybody. Hell, amazing what an infinite budget and a bunch of sick bastards can get done, am I right or what?

compared to? (1)

dropadrop (1057046) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650132)

Reading the article I did not see any comparison between the frequency of attacks against human rights groups and other politically active or high profile services. My employer has been hit by countless DOS attacks during the last year, and it's not a freedom of speech thing (actually I don't know what the motivation was most of the time). I do believe there will be a greater likelihood of having some human rights sites taken down in a ddos as they won't have a very advanced infrastructure behind the site, but are they actually attacked more then commercial sites?

Oh, Good grief... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#34650150)

If Berkman donated 1% of it's operation budget to maintain hosting for these (so-called) "free speech" issues, there would not be a problem. There's no news here, other than the political ridiculousness of Harvard's liberal whine.

Re:Oh, Good grief... (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | more than 3 years ago | (#34650162)

What? I'm not an AC. I'm logged in. I'm a karma whore. And I just posted:

        *
            If Berkman donated 1% of its operation budget to maintain hosting for these (so-called) "free speech" issues, there would not be a problem. There's no news here, other than the political ridiculousness of Harvard's liberal whine.

     

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