The magazine 2600, a leading publications among informal "hacker" communities worldwide since it began publishing in 1984, has formally condemned the pro-WikiLeaks hackers who launched "Operation Payback" to temporarily disable the websites of companies they say have wronged WikiLeaks or its founder, Julian Assange. 2600's press release, which "condemns" the "denial of service attacks," appears just as concerned with denouncing "Operation Payback" as letting the media know that real hackers are way more talented than these amateurs.
The media reports almost invariably refer to "hackers" as being behind these actions. While there is great sympathy in the hacker world for what Wikileaks is doing, this type of activity is no better than the strong-arm tactics we are fighting against.
These attacks, in addition to being a misguided effort that doesn't accomplish very much at all, are incredibly simple to launch and require no technical or hacker skills. While writing such programs requires a good degree of ingenuity and knowledge of security weaknesses, this doesn't mean that everyone who runs them possesses the same degree of proficiency, nor should we necessarily believe people who claim to be doing this on behalf of the hacker community.
The press release declares that the pro-WikiLeaks attacks "must not be allowed to be associated with the hacker community." In 2600's telling, the hackers of 2600 are spokespeople for the real and responsible hacker community. While this community also fully supports WikiLeaks and condemns "efforts to clamp down on freedom of speech" by WikiLeaks' opponents, 2600 says that denial-of-service attacks against companies such as Visa don't further those goals. "It certainly does not help Wikileaks to be associated with such immature and boorish activities any more than it helps the hacker community."
2600 seems mostly concerned that efforts like "Operation Payback" could inflame fear of hackers and enable efforts to restrict freedom of speech on the Web.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.