Our straight talking Lancashire lass takes a sideways look at the daily news.
A cyber war beneath our noses
Welcome to Techno Friday!
There’s plenty of drama going on in the online world, you just need to scratch the surface. Ever heard the term ‘The geeks will inherit the Earth?' Well I can tell you now that it’s true. Nearly.
There is a massive cyber war going on beneath our noses, but it is so complicated and the terminology is just so, well, technical that it may as well be happening on the face of Mars.
So I’ll just jump right in and see if it makes sense.
LulzSec (short for Lulz Security) is a group of hackers who have been described as a ‘cyber-terrorist group’ by various US Departments of Safety. These guys are behind the recent Sun and Times website hackings, but they also hacked Fox, they leaked US X-Factor information online and they went for Sony’s jugular. Oh, and these were the people who claimed to have a massive batch of emails from The Sun and threatened to release them, before changing their minds.
These guys (and gals?) are affiliated with the wider AntiSec movement, and they seem more interested in poking fun at large corporations rather than using their considerable talent to steal data or money. And they’re also into exposing corporate corruption and highlighting security flaws. So because of this, many are sympathetic to their actions. These guys are young, idealistic, hot-headed and very, very clever. And they terrify the living daylights out of the establishment.
Recently one of LulzSec’s ring leaders, who goes by the online name of Topiary, may or may not have been arrested. An 18-year-old from the Shetland Islands was hauled into police custody by a special unit of the Met – much to the confusion of the other island dwellers. I like to think that the police descended wearing white anti-chemical suits, backlit by flashlights and a cloud of mysterious white smoke. A bit like the scene in E.T.
The FBI are having a field day with this as well, and members of the group are being hunted left right and centre. But they do seem to be around 27 steps ahead all the time. In short, LulzSec and other similar groups have the powers that be highly rattled.
This is all very dramatic stuff, but every-day computer-illiterate folk like me have to wade through all sorts of weird language to figure out what the story is. Language like this:
“Hacking prosecutions troubling: smash a window in protest, v unlikely you’ll get to prison. Hack, or just DDoS, you could be there for >10y”
(Tweet by @jamesrbuk, Guardian data journo).
Now, I understand from this that there’s an issue with possible miscarriages of justice here. Youngsters who are engaging in a form of protest, albeit cypber-protest, are being banged up for years and years. It’s clearly not right. But what the hell is a DDoS?
It’s very hard to protest about something that is so far removed away from our general language, yet it’s obviously something that affects all of us. Frustratingly, the debate gets lost in translation
I would dearly love to get onto my soapbox with this – I am largely sympathetic towards the AntiSec movement (please don’t arrest me Mr FBI) – but I daren’t voice an opinion that is anything other than generic because I have no idea what botnets, Bitbits, patches or bogus bogosities are. And I doubt that you do too.
And don’t even get me started on TXT SPK. I feel old. I need a cup of tea…