Anonymous and the Megaupload Aftermath: Hacktivism or Just Plain Ugly?

Yesterday’s announcement by the US Department of Justice that the operators of file-sharing site Megaupload had been indicted for operating a criminal enterprise that generated over $175 million by trafficking in over half a billion dollars of pirated copyrighted material has sent shockwaves across the Internet. The accuracy of those figures may be questionable, but from reading the indictment as well as news reports of the lifestyles of Megaupload’s employees, it is clear that large amounts of money were involved.

Anonymous has quickly come to Megaupload’s defense, or at least to retaliate against government agencies and entertainment companies through Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, according to a communique allegedly from them. So far, the list of targeted organizations includes:

  • Government Agencies: US Copyright Office, US Federal Bureau of Investigation, US Department of Justice, US White House, and the French government copyright agency HADOPI
  • Trade Organizations: BMI, MPAA, RIAA
  • Businesses: EMI, SONY Music, Universal Music, Warner Music Group

While Anonymous targeting government agencies and entertainment companies is nothing new, we have received reports that they have been encouraging people to go to websites that, when visited, automatically and without notification begin a DDoS attack against the targeted organizations. Whether or not you agree or disagree with Anonymous’ goals, this new method of using computers to unknowingly attack targeted websites is more of an activity we expect from criminal botnets than online protest movements.

Regardless of whether you agree or disagree with Department of Justice’s indictment of Megaupload, it does seem that the United States’ government is able to very successfully prosecute copyright infringement cases without the need for proposed laws like the ill-conceived SOPA or PIPA acts.

Here are some of the many articles from news outlets discussing the Megaupload indictment:

 

In past dealings with Megaupload, we have found them to be quick in responding to requests to remove malware hosted on their servers. In the past year, both the United States Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have had great success in dealing with the organized criminals behind malicious software scams here and abroad. While there can be no doubt that copyright infringement is a serious matter that deprives corporations of potential revenue, the criminals behind malware prey indiscriminately upon people and businesses, and we hope this is something that all parties can work together to combat.

ESET Research

Author ESET Research, ESET

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