Internet A Battlefield In Egypt
By Jesse Emspak | January 26, 2011 6:44 PM EST
The internet has become a venue for battles between the Egyptian government and protesters, through social networking sites such as Facebook and the home pages of groups such as Anonymous and the People's Liberation Front.
Facebook has at least two pages, Operation Egypt and one titled Egypt's Protests. The former carries calls to arms, asking for volunteers to mount distributed denial of service attacks. The latter has posted messages and videos, such as one that said the Ministry of Awqaf which is in charge of religious endowments, might work with the Ministry of the Interior to stop Friday prayers.
Web sites run by the Egyptian government, notably the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Ministry of the Interior, experienced sporadic problems. Twitter was reportedly down in Egypt and a message posted to the Operation Egypt page says Facebook is unstable.
But it is not clear if that is due to action from the government or from the people performing DDoS attacks. A DDoS attack can sometimes shut down large parts of a communications infrastructure, as routers attempt to offload traffic that overwhelms them. One problem with DDoS attacks, says Barry Greene, president of the Internet Systems Consortium, is the collateral damage - sometimes in an attempt to shut down the Ministry of the Interior, for example, the communications infrastructure of the protesters could be affected as well.
The People's Liberation Front page called for a fax/email bomb - basically deluging the email servers and fax machines with traffic. It is not known if any such attacks were mounted or if they had any effect.
The Anonymous collective, linking from the Operation Egypt page, has asked in the IRC chat rooms that users access a web-based version of a program called Low Orbit Ion Cannon or download it, according to reports from netcraft.com, which publishes news on online security. The software stages DDoS attacks and was originally written as a stress-testing application.
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