An anonymous cyber group has vowed to continue hacking the BLM websites until its leaders give up the fight.
In just six months, Black Lives Matter’s main website and its affiliate sites were hacked 117 times by an anonymous cyber group looking to drive home the point that “All Lives Matter,’ according to a new report, the Atlanta Black Star states.
The document published Wednesday by Canadian nonprofit eQualit.ie, which offers digital support to prominent civil and human rights groups, showed that a collective known as the Ghost Squad Hackers first infiltrated blacklivesmatter.com in April. The group went on to launch 100 denial-of-service attacks on the social justice movement, accusing it of “fighting racism with racism.”
“We have taken down a couple of your websites and will continue to take down, deface, and harvest your databases until your leaders step up and discourage racist and hateful behavior,” said a computerized speaking voice in a cryptic YouTube video uploaded by the Anonymous-affiliated group titled “Anonymous Exposes Anti-White Racism.” “Very simply, we expect nothing less than a statement from your leadership that all hate is wrong … If this does not happen, we will consider you another hate group and you can expect our attention.”
— Anton Sorkin ن (@gortnacul_house) December 14, 2016
According to tech website Ars Technica, a Ghost Squad member identified only as @_s1ege claimed responsibility for the blacklivesmatter.com shutdown in a series of tweets posted April 29. The hacker charged BLM with attacking “innocent individuals of cultural appropriation while speaking English” and claimed the social justice organization was no better than the Ku Klux Klan.
“I s1ege, started this operation after attacking the KKK [because] I realized the individuals in the Black Lives Matter movement were acting no better – some even promote genocide of the Caucasian race,” @_se1ge wrote of his BLM attack. “This will not be tolerated.”
On May 2, 2016, YouTube channel @anonymous_exposes_racism uploaded a video called “Anonymous exposes anti-white racism,” according to Arc Technica.
The channel, active from eight months before this date, had previously featured short news clips and archival footage captioned with inflammatory statements (“Louis Farrakhan said WHITE PEOPLE DESERVE TO DIE”). But this new video was original material, produced with the familiar Anonymous aesthetic—dramatic opening music, a masked man glitching across the screen, and a computerized voice speaking in a strange cadence.
Dr. Gabriella Coleman is an anthropologist and the author of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy—considered the foremost piece of scholarship on Anonymous. (She also serves as a board member of eQualit.ie.) She said that Ghost Squad is currently one of the most prolific defacement and DDoS groups operating under the banner of Anonymous, but she also noted that only a few members have ever spoken publicly.
Cyber Group Hacks BLM Sites 117 Times, Vows to Continue Until Leaders ‘Discourage Racist and Hateful Behavior’ https://t.co/14IGedhfig
— Atlanta Black Star (@ATLBlackStar) December 16, 2016
“Unless you’re in conversation with members of a group, it’s hard to know what their culture is,” said Coleman. “I could imagine hypothetically that a lot of people who use the Ghost Squad mantle might not be for [attacking Black Lives Matter] but also might not be against it enough to speak out. You don’t know whether they all actively support it or just tolerate it.”
Just as with Anonymous as a whole, this uncertainty is compounded by doubts about the identity of those claiming to be Ghost Squad at any given time—a fact borne out by the sometimes chaotic attack patterns shown in the traffic analytics.
Deflect Labs traces much of the malicious traffic back to botnets and malicious scripts run by the Ghost Squad hacking collective, who very publicly denounced BLM, the Motherboard reports. But, Deflect writes, their efforts were largely futile.
“Some methods…appear to have been coordinated, whilst in other cases it was clear that many actors jumped on the bandwagon of a more powerful attack to claim some of the credit. These small, loosely organized mobs appear minutes to hours after the start of the original attack and lob a hodge-podge of various attack methods, often to no effect,” the report reads.
Cheap DDoS attacks can be organized with relatively little effort, and cost only a few dollars.
Two of the most vocal Ghost Squad members, it says, were responsible for “less than 20 percent” of the attacks. The report suggests that it may have been just one user may have been responsible for five attacks, spanning July to October, that deployed bot swarms to bring huge spikes in traffic to the site.
DDoS attacks are generally more nuisance than nefarious, and usually serve as a channel of protest for online activists and trolls—Anonymous used the medium to target Scientology and the NSA, while others have used it to simply knock off internet service in entire areas altogether.
The attacks rarely compromise personal information or sensitive data from the websites.
Nevertheless, DDoS attacks can be inconvenient and costly. Hosting companies could hike costs to clients who face the attacks, or drop them as clients altogether. The attacks could also damage or corrupt data on the site’s servers.
The BLM movement isn’t a terrorist or racist group as some people try to tag it. Its all in an attempt to frustrate its leaders and members alike to back-out. BLM is a peaceful groups seeking equality and justice therefore such attacks aren’t fair and not to be encouraged.