FTC site still down after Anonymous hack; anti-piracy fallout spreads

The Federal Trade Commission’s cybersecurity advice website remained offline Jan. 25, a day after it had been hacked by the group Anonymous in a continuing protest over proposed anti-piracy laws and recent anti-piracy arrests.

The OnGuardOnline.gov site, intended to give people cybersecurity advice, was hacked early Jan. 24, with the home page replaced by the Anonymous logo, a rap song and a message threatening more attacks if anti-piracy legislation in Congress — which has stalled after a massive online protest Jan. 18 — were to pass.

FTC, which operates the site with several other agencies, took it offline after the hack.

Related stories:

Congress backs away from SOPA, PIPA in face of public outcry

FBI's Megaupload bust, Anonymous' hacks underscore SOPA battle

The message left temporarily on OnGuardOnline referred to the Stop Online Piracy Act, The Protect Intellectual Property Act and the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. If they pass, the message said, “we will wage a relentless war against the corporate Internet, destroying dozens upon dozens of government and company websites,” The Next Web reported.

The message said Anonymous was “sitting on hundreds of rooted servers” and preparing to release information such as e-mail messages, passwords and bank account details.

SOPA and PIPA are bills introduced in the House and Senate, respectively, intended to combat piracy of intellectual property, especially by overseas criminal operations. But they both contain broad provisions requiring Internet service providers to block offending sites and search engines by rerouting traffic away from them that many Internet companies and users found objectionable.

On Jan. 18, thousands of websites, led by Reddit and Wikipedia, went dark in protest, posting messages urging people to oppose the bills, which began losing support from lawmakers shortly after.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a proposed international agreement for enforcing intellectual property rights that opponents claim would unduly restrict civil and digital rights.

A day after the SOPA protests, the piracy fight flared up on another front, after the FBI arrested leaders of the file-sharing site Megaupload and shut down the site.

Anonymous responded by attacking the websites of the Justice Department, FBI, White House and several entertainment industry companies.

DOJ said Megaupload, which claimed to have more than 150 million registered users and 50 million visitors a day, had made $175 million in illegal profits over about five years and caused a half-billion dollars in harm to copyright owners, particularly those in the recording industry.

The fallout from the arrests continued this week, with other file-sharing sites such as FileServe and FileSonic disabling their sharing services and saying users could download only content they had personally uploaded, ZDNet reported.

Meanwhile, Megaupload’s American attorney defended the site’s operations, telling ArsTechnica’s Nate Anderson that it was no different than YouTube, in that it hosts shared content and shouldn’t be held responsible for any content that has been pirated.

About the Author

Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.


  • Records management: Look beyond the NARA mandates

    Pandemic tests electronic records management

    Between the rush enable more virtual collaboration, stalled digitization of archived records and managing records that reside in datasets, records management executives are sorting through new challenges.

  • boy learning at home (Travelpixs/Shutterstock.com)

    Tucson’s community wireless bridges the digital divide

    The city built cell sites at government-owned facilities such as fire departments and libraries that were already connected to Tucson’s existing fiber backbone.

Stay Connected