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‘We Are Anonymous, We Are Legion’

The hacker collective is far more evil than you ever imagined.

by
Rob Taylor

Bio

October 8, 2011 - 4:00 pm

Members of Anonymous made cyber-terror history by flooding an epilepsy support forum with JavaScript code and animated gifs designed to trigger seizures in pattern-sensitive and photo-sensitive epileptics. It was the first recorded computer attack that caused physical harm to people:

Internet griefers descended on an epilepsy support message board last weekend and used JavaScript code and flashing computer animation to trigger migraine headaches and seizures in some users.

The nonprofit Epilepsy Foundation, which runs the forum, briefly closed the site Sunday to purge the offending messages and to boost security.

“We are seeing people affected,” says Ken Lowenberg, senior director of web and print publishing at the Epilepsy Foundation. “It’s fortunately only a handful. It’s possible that people are just not reporting yet — people affected by it may not be coming back to the forum so fast.”

The incident, possibly the first computer attack to inflict physical harm on the victims, began Saturday, March 22, when attackers used a script to post hundreds of messages embedded with flashing animated gifs.

The attackers turned to a more effective tactic on Sunday, injecting JavaScript into some posts that redirected users’ browsers to a page with a more complex image designed to trigger seizures in both photosensitive and pattern-sensitive epileptics.

[...]

Circumstantial evidence suggests the attack was the work of members of Anonymous, an informal collective of griefers best known for their recent war on the Church of Scientology. The first flurry of posts on the epilepsy forum referenced the site EBaumsWorld, which is much hated by Anonymous. And forum members claim they found a message board thread — since deleted — planning the attack at 7chan.org, a group stronghold.

Yet after these and similar incidents, Anonymous is still viewed as a group of freedom-loving folk heroes fighting for justice on the web. Both libertarians and leftists laud Anonymous, no matter the depths to which the hackers sink.

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