Contestations in Cyberspace This Week

Contestation in and about cyberspace continued this week, with many instances of political events on the ground translating into anonymous actions in cyberspace, as well as an instance of multi-stakeholder disagreement regarding rules of the road for cyberspace.

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Syrian Electronic Army Defaces 41 Web sites, One UK Government Web site

The Syrian Electronic Army (SEA) has claimed responsibility for defacing 41 websites, 23 of which have the top level domain name .uk.

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Syrian Electronic Army: Disruptive Attacks and Hyped Targets

In this report, the IWM continues to examine the Syrian Electronic Army’s activities, their online targets, and the impact of their attacks.

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Breachfest 2011 Continues

The flood of news of breaches against high profile organizations that Ron Deibert has dubbed Breachfest 2011 remains in full force. Last week, LulzSec broke into the Senate’s computer network and released files while publicly stating, “We don’t like the U.S. government very much,” adding, “This is a small, just-for-kicks release of some internal data from Senate.gov—is this an act of war, gentlemen?” The group also claimed responsibility for a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the CIA’s public Web site and released 62,000 email and password combinations from an unknown source.

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Syrian Internet Shutdown and the Ongoing Militarization and Contestation of Cyberspace

Today, it was reported by Renesys that beginning at 3:35 UTC and in the course of an hour and a half, two-thirds of Syrian networks had become disconnected from the global Internet.

This latest Internet black out is an example of just-in-time blocking—a phenomenon in which access to content and information communication technologies are blocked in response to sensitive political situations when the technology and content may have the greatest potential impact. It is suspected that the severing of Syria’s Internet is in direct response to the intensification of revolts this week, sparked in part by the death and torture of 13 year old Hamza Ali al-Khateeb, as well as in memory of at least 50 other children killed during the protests. This action follows other MENA states severing access in reaction to protest on ground with Egypt shutting down national connectivity on January 28, 2011 and access blockages in Libya and Bahrain in February. For further analysis, see today’s OpenNet Initiative blogpost.

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