To the Syrian people: The world stands with you against the brutal regime of Bashar Al-Assad. Know that time and history are on your side -- tyrants use violence because they have nothing else, and the more violent they are, the more fragile they become. We salute your determination to be non-violent in the face of the regime's brutality, and admire your willingness to pursue justice, not mere revenge. All tyrants will fall, and thanks to your bravery Bashar Al-Assad is next.
To the Syrian military: You are responsible for protecting the Syrian people, and anyone who orders you to kill women, children, and the elderly deserves to be tried for treason. No outside enemy could do as much damage to Syria as Bashar Al-Assad has done. Defend your country -- rise up against the regime! -- Anonymous
A member of Anonymous who was involved in the attack on the Ministry website told The Huffington Post Monday morning that the action was part of a broader effort by the loosely-affiliated group to focus on political targets.
"There are various things in the works -- pretty much anything standing in the way of democratic governance, human rights, and the rule of law is in the crosshairs," the hacker said. "That includes everybody from the Koch brothers to Mahmoud Ahmedinejad."
He went on, "The [Ministry of Defense] was targeted because it represents the Syrian military, which is the key moving part in the ongoing uprising there. If the military turns against the regime, the regime is toast."
Anonymous had previously announced that they would begin targeting the websites of Syrian embassies around the world but today's attack was the first to target an official government website in the country, according to PC Magazine. Much of Anonymous's previous work has centered on large corporations, like Visa and Sony, but in June the organization announced it was joining forces with the politically oriented hacker group LulzSec, to focus more on government websites, reports the LA Times.
Anonymous to Attack Syrian Embassy Web Sites
By Chloe Albanesius
June 3, 2011
Not to be outdone by Sony hackers LulzSec, Anonymous on Friday announced plans to attack Syrian embassies around the world in response to the country's Internet takedown.
"It has come to our attention that the tyrant and human rights abuser [Syrian president] Bashar Assad the so-called president or dictator of Syria, has shut down the Internet within Syria, thus further isolating and terrorizing the freedom loving people of Syria who have already suffered so much from this evil regime," Anonymous said in a note posted on Pastebin.com. "So today we will begin a program of removing from the Internet the Web sites of the Syrian Embassies abroad."
At approximately 6:35am local time today, about two-thirds of all Syrian networks went down, according to Renesys, a service that monitors Internet connectivity. Like similar outages in Egypt and Libya, the move is likely in response to the civil unrest that has plagued the country for about three months. "Over the course of roughly half an hour, the routes to 40 of 59 networks were withdrawn from the global routing table," Renesys said.
Anonymous, the clandestine group that operates "Operation Payback" and reportedly includes members of the "/b/" bulletin board 4chan.org, has therefore pledged to organize distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on Syrian embassies. They will begin at 9:30am SYT with a focus on Web sites for the embassies in France and Saudi Arabia.
According to Renesys, Internet connections belonging to the Syrian government are still live. The Web site for the country's Oil Ministry is online, as is Syrian Telecom's official page, but the Ministry of Education, the Damascus city government page, and the Syrian Customs Web site are all down.
"So long as Assad remains in power and the criminal and evil regime retains it's ability to torture, kill, and imprison their own people; Anonymous will continue this campaign of removing the Syrian Embassy web sites from the Internet and interfering with the communications channels via Black Fax and E-Mail Bomb campaigns. The butchers of Syria can damn well EXPECT US!" Anonymous said in its notice.
Another hacker group has been making headlines today. LulzSec also took to Pastebin, claiming to have hacked into the SonyPictures.com database and accessed account information for 1 million people.
For more from Chloe, follow her on Twitter @ChloeAlbanesius.
Hacker Groups LulzSec and Anonymous in Pact to Attack Government Websites
by Salvador Rodriguez
June 30, 2011
Two prominent hacker groups say they are combining forces to attack governments in what they say is a war on corruption.
LulzSec, the hacker group whose list of victims has included the U.S. Senate, the CIA, Sony and most recently, it says, the FBI and SOCA, a British police agency, says it is at the forefront of the hacking campaign.
"Stop fearing three-letter agencies, friends. They're humans with slightly more paper and fancier uniforms; they are just like you and me," LulzSec tweeted Sunday.
Joining LulzSec is the group Anonymous, which has gone after governments and large companies, including Visa and MasterCard last year, in what they say was an effort to prevent Internet censorship.
The two groups are using the code name Operation Anti-Security.
Although the two groups have had their differences, the partnership brings together the manpower of Anonymous, whose membership is believed to possibly be in the thousands according to Gabriella Coleman, who teaches a course at New York University on digital activism, with LulzSec's daredevil attacks that occur several times a week.
The campaign's objective is to leak classified government information, and its targets are "banks and other high-ranking establishments," LulzSec said.
LulzSec’s latest push could help improve Internet security, said Stan Stahl, a security consultant and president of the Los Angeles chapter of the Information Systems Security Assn. Stahl said Operation Anti-Security is the kind of thing that will make society aware of what is needed to protect information online.
“Basic bottom line is: Go at it,” Stahl said. “Show us how insecure we all are, and we’ll take it from there.”
LulzSec is not the only Internet group disclosing private and confidential information. A website titled LulzSec Exposed emerged Saturday, posting blogs with information regarding who the members of the hacker group are. The website, which is run by unidentified people going under the moniker Web Ninjas, claims to be "bringing lulz to hack victims."
"If LulzSec can expose security holes, We can expose their holes, How about this for LULZ?," reads the website's about section.
"There are absolutely plans to take other sites and do similarly targeted actions," the hacker said. "Any regime that's engaged in obviously heinous bullshit is fair game. Killing unarmed civilians absolutely qualifies as heinous bullshit.
The hacker group has recently attacked the websites of a number of high-profile institutions. Earlier in the weekend, the group announced it had stolen sensitive data from around 70 U.S. law enforcement agencies, primarily rural police departments.
"Anonymous" Hacks U.S. Law Enforcement Sites, Steals Data
by Raphael G. Satter and Nomaan Merchant
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- The group known as Anonymous said Saturday it hacked into some 70 mostly rural law enforcement websites in the United States, a data breach that at least one local police chief said leaked sensitive information about an ongoing investigation.
The loose-knit international hacking collective posted a cache of data to the Internet early Saturday, including emails stolen from officers, tips which appeared to come from members of the public, credit card numbers and other information.
Anonymous said it had stolen 10 gigabytes worth of data in retaliation for arrests of its sympathizers in the U.S. and Britain.
Tim Mayfield, a police chief in Gassville, Ark., told The Associated Press that some of the material posted online – including pictures of teenage girls in their swimsuits – was sent to him as part of an ongoing investigation. He declined to provide more details.
Mayfield's comments were the first indication that the hack might be serious. Since news of some kind of cyberattack first filtered out less than a week ago, various police officials said they were unaware of the hacking or dismissed it as nothing to worry about.
Though many of the leaked emails appeared benign, some of the stolen material seen by the AP carried sensitive information, including tips about suspected crimes, profiles of gang members and security training.
The emails were mainly from sheriffs' offices in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri and Mississippi. Many of the websites were operated by a Mountain Home, Ark., media services hosting company, and most, if not all, were either unavailable on Saturday or had been wiped clean of content. The company, Brooks-Jeffrey Marketing, declined to comment.
In a statement, Anonymous said had leaked "a massive amount of confidential information that is sure to (embarrass), discredit and incriminate police officers across the US." The group said it hoped the disclosures would "demonstrate the inherently corrupt nature of law enforcement using their own words" and "disrupt and sabotage their ability to communicate and terrorize communities."
The group did not say specifically why these sheriffs' departments were targeted, but Anonymous members have increasingly been pursued by law enforcement in the United States and elsewhere following a string of high-profile data thefts and denial of service attacks – operations that block websites by flooding them with traffic.
Last month, the FBI and British and Dutch officials made 21 arrests, many of them related to the group's attacks on Internet payment provider PayPal Inc., which has been targeted over its refusal to process donations to WikiLeaks. The group also claims credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and MasterCard in December when the credit card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
An Internet security expert said Anonymous may have gone after the sheriffs' offices because the hosting company was an easy target. Dick Mackey, vice president of consulting at Sudbury, Mass.-based SystemExperts, said many organizations don't see themselves as potential targets for international hackers, causing indifference that can leave them vulnerable.
"It seems to me to be low-hanging fruit," he said. "If you want to go after someone and make a point and want to have their defenses be low, go after someone who doesn't consider themselves a target."
As part of the information posted from U.S. sheriffs' department, the group leaked five credit card numbers it said it used to make "involuntary donations." At least four of the names and other personal details published on the Internet appeared genuine. One person contacted by the AP confirmed that money had been stolen from his account.
Anonymous also posted several emails from police tipsters, many who had asked law enforcement not to use their names because they were afraid of retaliation. One tipster wrote that his uncle was a convicted sexual offender who was homeless and hanging around an area Walmart and other places where children were. Another tipster wrote to police that she and her neighbors could smell drugs coming from a house. Both did not respond to emails sent by the AP requesting comment.
The AP called more than two dozen sheriffs' offices across the country that had information posted by Anonymous. Most calls went unanswered or were not returned Saturday. Several did confirm that a cyberattack had taken place, and some said they did not believe highly sensitive information had been leaked.
"At this point, other than emails ... there's really not any other critical information they could get their hands on," said John Montgomery, sheriff of Baxter County in northern Arkansas.
Some sheriffs said they were told about the hacking by the hosting company, but the information they received appeared to vary.
In Arkansas, St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May said his department and several others were targeted in retaliation for the arrest of hackers who had targeted Apple Computer Inc., among other companies.
"It's an international group who are hacking into law enforcement websites across the nation is my understanding," May told the AP in a telephone interview. He said the FBI was investigating the attacks.
FBI spokesman Steve Frazier did not return several phone calls seeking comment.
But other sheriffs seemed to first learn of the scope of the hacking only when contacted by the AP.
Peter E. Walker, sheriff of Jefferson County in Mississippi, said he did not know whether his office's website had been hacked. "As soon as we're back up and rolling on Monday, if something happened we'll be aware of it," he said.
Merchant reported from Little Rock, Ark; Satter reported from London. Associated Press writers Maria Fisher in Kansas City, Mo.; M.L. Johnson in Chicago; Shannon McCaffrey in Atlanta; and Janet McConnaughey in New Orleans contributed to this report.
In July, President Barack Obama condemned the Syrian regime, saying he is "appalled" by the "horrifying" reports of violence.
A screenshot of the hacked website.
Joshua Hersh contributed reporting to this story.