Another big, bad Anonymous hack is knocking on cyber doorsteps — and freaking out Washington: The do-gooder hacking collective plans to target cord cutters and anyone using the Internet to watch the State of the Union address online, blacking out President Obama's speech for the causes of Aaron Swartz, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Information Act (CISPA), and more. "There will be no State of the Union Address on the web tonight. For freedom, for Aaron Swartz, for the Internet, and of course, for the lulz," reads a message posted on the Anonymous media channel today.
But can the world's most notorious news hackers bring down the world's biggest news sites, and even the White House's "enhanced" live stream? There are reports that Anonymous hacked the Federal Reserve's internal files and servers during the Super Bowl, which the FBI is investigating, according to ZDNet. So, yeah, they can get to D.C. — and it isn't the group's first digital government intrusion.
Anonymous says tonight's hack will be continued revenge for hacking legend Aaron Swartz's prosecution, as well as big way to show the open web's displeasure for a potential executive order that would reinstate some of the elements of CISPA, which Congress is bringing back and which Obama could bolster with an executive action on cybersecurity. The Sparrow Project, a PR agency, obtained an e-mail it says came from Anonymous claiming the following statement:
Anonymous has reached a verdict of NO CONFIDENCE in this executive order and the plans to reintroduce the CISPA bill to Congress on the same day. As such, President Obama and the State of the Union Address will be BANISHED from the Internet for the duration of live delivery.
And on Anonymous's media channels, the hacking collective wrote:
Aaron Swartz was one of the leading voices in the fight against these idiotic and destructive efforts to control the last free space on Earth.
Aaron Swartz was persecuted. Now Aaron Swartz is dead.
Those are Internet fighting words as a big year for Anonymous continues. But as Gawker's Adrien Chen points out, Anonymous has threatened plenty of big hacks that never came to fruition, with targets ranging from Facebook to Fox News. Of course we won't know if the hack works until something or nothing goes down tonight, but fears about the crash of live video surrounding one of the biggest news events of the year are real:
"Anonymous" plans to disrupt SOTU by preventing anybody from watching it, except on television. thedailybeast.com/cheats/2013/02…— davidfrum (@davidfrum) February 12, 2013
And those fears have already raised awareness of the group's cause — which is the exactly the point Anonymous keeps trying to make.