The perils of Internet vigilantism

An interesting and instructive story flagged by Softpedia: Turkish Hackers Confuse Israel with Palestine.

A report by Ilil Ben Zur-Laron for ynetnews, the English language version of a major Israeli news site, quotes  Shai Blitzblau, the head of Maglan-Computer Warfare and Network Intelligence Labs, as claiming that Turkish hackers left anti-Israel messages on 70 websites hosted on Israeli servers. Apparently, however, they failed to realize that the sites were actually Palestinian, even though the domains in question had .ps suffixes rather than .il.

While there’s a certain grim humour in this instance of defacement by friendly fire, there’s also a message. As “cyberwar” (sigh) becomes a more regular feature of our online society, I guarantee that SNAFUs (and black ops masquerading as SNAFUs for purposes of misdirection) will also be seen more and more often. So this is what it’s like to live in the pages of a Netforce novel… Hat tip to Ian Cook for bringing this story to my attention.

On a not altogether disconnected note, a very nice article on The Rise of Techno-Vigilantism | LulzSec and Public Opinion crossed my path today. Briefly, Tim Libert used comments he found posted to articles on LulzSec as a way of assessing public attitudes to high-profile, hi-tec vigilantism. He doesn’t claim that it represents the views of society as a whole, but it is a fascinating piece of research nonetheless, and reflects my own conviction that the comments to an article often tell us as much about the world as the article itself does. What it tells us is not always comfortable, but that’s (virtual) life… I suspect I’ll be visiting Tim’s site again.

David Harley CITP FBCS CISSP
Small Blue-Green World/AVIEN
ESET Senior Research Fellow

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