Grugnog on Mon, 16 Aug 1999 11:58:53 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> FW: [mt] Riot organisers prepare cyber war.

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Subject: [mt] Riot organisers prepare cyber war.

August 15 1999       Sunday Times

 Riot organisers prepare to launch cyber war on City 

    Jonathan Ungoed-Thomas and Maeve Sheehan

 ACTIVISTS who organised the City riot have been
 trained in hacking techniques to attack the computer
 networks of banks and financial institutions, an
 has revealed. 

 Members of Reclaim the Streets, which co-ordinated the
 June 18 action, have sought advice from America on
 sabotaging computer sites and have recruited teams of
 British-based hackers. City companies have now called in
 consultants to protect their systems. 

 The threat comes after a report on the proliferation of
 political hacking from the National Criminal Intelligence
 Service. The Animal Liberation Front, anti-nuclear
 protesters and pro-democracy groups opposed to the
 Chinese government have already infiltrated several sites. 

 Environmental activists, too, are employing the techniques
 of the cyber terrorist. The Sunday Times has discovered
 that several companies and institutions, including the
 Exchange, Barclays and HSBC, were targeted by teams of
 hackers during the anti-capitalist demonstration. 

 The attack was co-ordinated with teams of hackers from
 Indonesia, Israel, Germany and Canada. For five hours at
 least 20 companies were subjected to more than 10,000
 attacks by hackers. Other activists used a program called
 floodnet to block or crash web sites. 

 "There were repeated attempts to penetrate the security
 that were all being done remotely," said Dr Neil Barrett,
 who has advised police on internet crime and is a technical
 director at Information Risk Management, a computer
 security company. 

 "There were thousands of attacks on a number of sites.
 The tactics were crude but they were clearly co-ordinated
 with the J18 protest." 

 The companies targeted did not report the attacks to
 police, but several have now reviewed security. They also
 intend to improve protection for fibre access points in the
 street, where mobile hackers could try to infiltrate

 Another software consultant who works for a number of
 City firms confirmed the attack. "In the case of June 18,
 we saw eco-terrorism done by computers," said D K
 Matai, managing director of Mi2g. "We were monitoring it
 and a number of companies were under attack from
 hackers all over the world." 

 Although the attacks caused no serious damage, computer
 staff in the City fear that hackers could cause havoc if
 used more sophisticated techniques or gained access to
 buildings. They are particularly concerned because
 protesters broke into the London International Financial
 Futures and Options Exchange (Liffe) building. 

 "A political hacker who knew what he was doing inside
 your building and inside your computer system would be a
 disaster," said one expert. 

 Detectives investigating the riot say it took more than 12
 months to prepare. The plan to combine the street protest
 with an attack by hackers is believed to date back to last
 September, when London members of Reclaim the Streets
 attended a seminar in Manchester on information warfare. 

 Among those present was Ricardo Dominguez, 40, who
 describes himself as a cyber artist and is one of the key
 activists behind the Electronic Civil Disobedience
 movement in America. 

 "I told them about 'swarming', in which you have a street
 protest and at the same time use hackers to attack certain
 targets," said Dominguez last week. "I met a number of
 people from Reclaim the Streets. They wanted a network
 of hackers and wanted to know how to get in touch with
 these people and how to motivate them." 

 Dominguez also told the activists about the floodnet device
 used by the group he founded, the Electronic Disturbance
 Theatre, to target sites including the Pentagon in protest
 the plight of the Zapatistas in Mexico; but Dominguez says
 he does not hack into sites. 

 In the months before June 18, hacking groups in Britain
 and abroad were e-mailed instructions. The floodnet
 device was widely available on the internet under the J18

 Software consultants said City firms did not report the
 attacks because of their reluctance to highlight computer
 security issues. Barclays, HSBC and the Stock Exchange
 said last week that none of their systems was infiltrated
 there was no serious threat. "We are very
 security-conscious and this isn't something we want to talk
 about," said a Stock Exchange spokesman. 

 Computer analysts believe experienced hackers joined the
 J18 attack to study the systems of City finance houses. In
 an e-mail message to The Sunday Times, a Hull-based
 hacker known only as Syncom said the most likely date for
 a further attack would be January 1 and financial
 institutions would be primary targets. 

 City police are sceptical that a protest similar to J18
 be organised within the next few months. "We know there
 is talk about something happening on the first day of the
 millennium, but intelligence sources do not suggest there
 anything planned on the scale of the June protest," said
 Detective Inspector Kevin Moore. 

 However, many in the protest movement believe that direct
 action on the streets is preferable to sitting at a
 and trying to attack a corporation. 

 Such a view is reflected at this week's Suffolk gathering
 the ecological group Earth First. There are no advertised
 workshops on hacking, but lessons are promised on
 lock-picking, climbing and self-defence. 

 Additional reporting: Mark Macaskill and Hilary Scott

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