Apr. 8th, 2011

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[personal profile] the_future_modernes
[personal profile] synecdochic has a good post on the recent DDOS attacks on LJ: LiveJournal's DDoS and Russian Politics

This is (probably part of the reason) why LiveJournal has been under DDoS attack in the last few weeks:

Alexey Navalny's War on Russian Corruption

I remember -- back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the earth and Brad still owned LJ -- slowly noticing that LJ was becoming more and more prevalent in Russia and in the Russian political arena. We always thought it was slightly odd -- how did this site that had been originally designed for US college students turn into this juggernaut in Russia? -- but really incredibly awesome. Even when we'd started to get incredible numbers of support requests (and abuse requests, which were horribly worse, since 90% of support requests could be handled with an online translator and a FAQ, and while 90% of abuse requests could be handled with a FAQ too, first you had to read and evaluate the content being reported, and online translation is a shitty way to figure out if a ToS violation was present, and we only had one translator who could only give us a few hours a week, and and and), which slowly piled up into an unmanageable stack of stuff I just couldn't handle without outside help that wasn't always available, making my numbers look like shit, I was always conscious of the fact that on the other side of the world, the website I was helping to run was, essentially, the only free press of an entire country.

The word for "blog" in the Russian language is literally 'ЖЖ' -- the abbreviation for Живой Журнал, or LiveJournal. (Although the automatic translators tended to render it as 'Alive Magazine', which always amused me.) The president of Russia keeps an LJ. (Or a ЖЖ.) There's pretty much no doubt in my mind that the Russian-language market for LJ is what kept LJ from being shut down by Six Apart after acquisition -- 6A had a history of buying companies for the intellectual property and the people who worked there, using that intellectual property and the employees for other projects they had in mind, and shutting down the property once they'd sucked out everything they wanted it for. The fact that Russian-language LJ was so strong meant they could sell the whole thing to SUP, which gave them a different method of disposal.

So, people who grumble about "the Russians" taking over LJ should remember that in Russia, LiveJournal isn't just the top blogging platform, it's theblogging platform. It is Russia's free press. It is the tool being used to fight corruption and advance the cause of democracy. And, more practically to LJ users, the Russian-speaking sector of LJ is the reason LJ is still there at all.

Global Voices also has an extremely informative piece: Russia: Distributed Denial of LiveJournal

Russian DDoS warfare: 2007 - 2011

Frank, LiveJournal's mascot has now more reasons to cry. Screenshot of LiveJournal website.

Frank, LiveJournal's mascot, has now more reasons to cry. Screenshot of LiveJournal website.

The possibility of an attack on LiveJournal was predictable. In January 2010, when I was asked by Ivan Sigal, GV Executive Director, what were the most probable DDoS (Distributed Denial-of-Service) targets in Russia, I called LiveJournal the most endangered platform. Usage and seriousness of DDoS, the universal online weapon used both for commercial extortions and political assaults, are increasing every year. Russia, in this context, is famous not only for having a long history of suppressing dissent, but also for being a country with one of the widest and cheapest markets for DDoS services.

Noticeable political DDoS attacks have been happening in Russia since 2007. Before the attack on LiveJournal, the targets were either independent or semi-independent media (novayagazeta.ru, kommersant.ru, vedomosti.ru being the most known cases), and pro-democracy political parties (mosyabloko.ru was attacked in 2007). 2011 has been marked by political DDoS, too. In the beginning of February 2011, the website [ru] of a small but vocalLibertarian Party of Russia was ‘DDoS-ed‘ [ru] by its virtual spoiler ‘Party of Liberty‘ [ru].

Things changed in 2011. On February 25, for the first time in the RuNet history, the website of the United Russia' party was attacked [ru]. A Ukraine-based information technology specialist has registered a website with a provocative name putinvzrivaetdoma.org ['Putin Blows Up Houses,' a reference to the conspiracy theory behind 1999 appartment bombings in Russia [ru] and installed LOIC (Low Orbital Ion Cannon, a weapon of choice of the Anonymous hacker group), an open-source tool for crowdsourced DDoS. For several hours, United Russia's website was unaccessible.

Commercials attacks are a grim reality for many websites as well - they are being organized on a daily basis, and their owners are being extorted [ru]. According to the latest research [ru] by Russian cybersecurity company Group IB, 35 percent of DDoS attacks are conducted by Russian (or, to be more precise, russophone) hackers.


Versions behind the attack

In these conditions, anonymous and relatively cheap DDoS attacks are more efficient than legal prosecution or physical harrassment of bloggers. Combined with human bots that spin “hot” topics, this tactic helps authorities deny any evident fact of cyber censorship. Other evidence of the political origin of these attacks is the fact that before LiveJournal, an anti-corruption website rospil.info had been attacked by infamous Darkness/Optima botnet (the name of the network of infected computers). These and other details of the attack were published by the independent analysis [ru] at Kaspersky Lab, a cyber security company.MORE

trouble: Sketch of Hermoine from Harry Potter with "Bookworms will rule the world (after we finish the background reading)" on it (Default)
[personal profile] trouble
(Wow, that's a lot of colons.)

Silencing Dissent: The Conservative Record

Over the past five years, exercise of the fundamental freedom of speech in Canada has been curbed and discouraged by a federal government increasingly intolerant of even the mildest criticism or dissent. Particularly affected have been organizations dependent on government funding which advocate for human rights and women’s equality. Their voices have been stifled, some completely silenced, by cuts to their budgets. Also financially throttled have been individuals and groups that speak out for reproductive rights, humanitarian immigration policies, and for changes in Canada’s foreign policy in the Middle East.

The Harper government’s now lengthy record of silencing – or attempting to silence – its critics also includes the removal of heads of government agencies, commissions, and tribunals who insist on making independent decisions. Academics who have spoken against government actions or policies have also been targeted.

This blatant suppression of basic human rights by a government constitutionally responsible for guaranteeing their expression is unprecedented in Canada’s history.

This is a very long read.


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