Anonymous Versus the Church of Scientology

In the past, I have been a vocal critic of the Church of Scientology. Like many of you, I saw the video of Tom Cruise, wide-eyed and cackling, talking about how only Scientologists know what to do when they pass a car wreck. It made me pray to God that, should I actually be involved in a real car wreck, to please prevent any Scientologist whackos from slapping an e-meter on me. God should instead dispatch a firetruck with the jaws of life.

Last week, the Church of Scientology began to legally threaten those that posted the Tom Cruise and other initiation videos. The leagues of “Anonymous” who inhabit the /b/ channel of 4chan.org issued a battle cry and decided to DDoS Scientology websites as a response.  You can see their declaration video against CoS here.

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So how successful was their campaign of cyber-terror against the CoS?  It was disruptive, causing lengthy periods of unavailability for many of the Scientology sites.  The CoS responded to the attacks by “repositioning their Internet posture” by hiring a content-distribution company that will load-balance their servers, preventing the effects of the DDoS.

The attack statistics, according to Jose Nazario at Arbor Networks here:

  • Number of attacks measured: 488 in the past week
  • Attacks by date: 488 on January 19, 2008
  • Maximum PPS rates seen: nearly 20000 pps (packets per second), with an average attack size of 15,000 pps
  • Maximum bandwidth seen per attack: 220 Mbps, with an average attack size of 168 Mbps. This is on the high side of an attack, but significantly smaller than the largest ones we commonly see nowadays
  • Maximum duration of a single attack: 1.8 hours, which is on the long end of common, but the average attack lasted just under half an hour
  • Number of reporting ISPs: 1, indicating that this is not a huge, broadly sourced attack (ie it may not have registered on other ISPs systems)

I have read many of the forums and threads that discussed the attack as it was ongoing from members of “Anonymous.”  Most of the attacks seemed to be scripted by individual users.  Some were merely sending ping floods with multiple command prompts.  It is unlikely anyone was using a botnet.

This means that “citizen volunteers” can still knock over internet sites as part of hactivism or to make a point.  And in this case, I think Anonymous made their point.  They certainly scored well in the press coverage.


Internet circa 1996

By Ilya Kochanov
Contributor, [GAS]

As early as 10 years ago the web was a terribly unproductive place to be. Animated GIFs were all the rage and HTML ruled supreme. Forget about funny cat videos or managing your calendar online. Blogging? Shopping? Material of questionable origins? No, no, and unfortunately not.

Web 2.0 is a common buzz-word for sites which provide cool services; but do you remember what Web 0.5 was like? Apparently a service called the “WayBack Machine” has been archiving web pages since 1996 and is used simply by typing in a desired web address. Give it a try for yourself and see what you can dig up. They’ve archived about 55 billion pages thus far so finding something cool is easy.

The outcome is pretty funny considering modern sites such as those of Microsoft or Apple appear as if they were created in a middle school computer class.

It’s interesting how just over a decade ago we viewed these monstrosities as state-of-the-art developments in human communication. Now they are fossilized remnants of a different age, immortalized in history along with dial-up, Arpanet, and Rick Astley.

Internet ’96

Rumor of the evening: MacBook Pro update March 17?

By Ilya Kochanov
Contributor, [GAS]

If you’re contemplating on buying a MacBook Air solely for the Multi Touch interface, it may or may not pay to wait just a little bit. According to an unidentified source, CrunchGear has reported that the MacBook Pro will receive a Multi Touch trackpad and a possible price drop on St. Patrick’s day.

These claims are unconfirmed as of yet, so take them for what they are. It’s almost obvious that Apple plans to upgrade the entire MacBook line shortly as many people are excited about the new technology… The only question is when.

New MBP’s on St. Patricks day? [CrunchGear]

Windows 7: Screenshots and video

Windows Vista hasn’t been the most successful operating system. Since day one it has been plagued with poor support, dwindling sales, and even users who are downgrading to XP after forking over the cash for Microsoft’s latest blunder.

Apparently the boys in Redmond have misunderstood the anguished cries of countless Windows users and have decided to make what looks like a whole new version of the same product.

As of yet it seems like nothing short of a repackaged version of Vista with a few improved media features and a new boot screen. However, the early beta releases of ‘Longhorn’ looked like XP too. So the images and video might not be an accurate representation of what 7 will look like. On the outside it seems like little has changed, but until someone does a top-down analysis of the system, there’s no telling exactly what changes have been made.

The whole thing doesn’t look too interesting at the moment unless you’re a Microsoft exec. looking to punish those who leaked this ‘gem’ onto the internet. In which case, don’t even bother. No one is really looking forward to it anyway.

Click on for a few screen shots.

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Ledger’s death equals higher Batman profits?

By Mark O’Neill

Keith Ledger as The JokerWith the untimely tragic death of Heath Ledger, movie industry watchers are predicting that the profits of the upcoming Batman movie, The Dark Knight, will ultimately go through the roof.

The release of the new Batman posters, showing Ledger as the Joker, has the actor “gruesomely made-up” and there was a lot of positive buzz about his performance. However, news of Ledger’s death has prompted suggestions that anticipation of the movie “is likely to intensify with fans morbidly curious to watch Ledger’s posthumous final screen performance.”

Is it just little old sensitive me or is it highly distasteful to pay to watch a movie just because a recently-dead actor appears in it? I will be watching The Dark Knight as a fan, not someone who will gasp in wonder when Ledger appears on-screen as the Joker for the first time.

The death of Ledger has also got Warner Bros re-considering their marketing and promotion for the Batman movie.  Several news sources including AFP and the Wall Street Journal are reporting that Ledger may be removed altogether from the promotional posters to be replaced instead by Christian Bale.  The studio is concerned that leaving him on the posters will lead to accusations they are trying to cash in by exploiting Ledger’s demise.

Dilbert goes all widgety

By Mark O’Neill

DilbertIf, like me, you enjoy your daily dose of Dilbert, then you’ll be pleased to hear that he has gone all widgety on us.

Dilbert’s daddy, Scott Adams, has produced free widgets of varying sizes which show the current Dilbert strip (in color!) and you can put the widget on your website / blog / iGoogle page / social networking page (take your pick).

The only slightly irritating thing about it (from my point of view) is that there isn’t a widget size that shows the entire strip in one go. Even the biggest size – 400 x 300 – only shows one and a half pictures at a time and you have to click on the arrow button to see the rest.

But hey it’s free and who am I to quibble with free? Grab your desired widget and show the love.

Steve Jobs: The $1 Man

Poor, poor Steve Jobs. In 2008, Apple’s CEO will continue to receive his third-world-like salary of $1. The worst part of this is that once again, he will not receive a raise this year. The only compensation he’ll get is a few shares of his beloved corporation, currently priced at $140 a piece.

Since Apple is afraid that Jobs will go looking for greener pastures, they have generously offered him a bit of help here and there when he has needed it the most. In 2000, they offered him a private jet valued at approximately $90 million. In 2007, the firm reimbursed over $770,000 in expenses related to the jet.

That said, you can’t deny that Jobs is a very poor man. The only thing he gets out of his job are shares of the company, which incidentally, are now worth a measly $768 million.

Being that destitute must be very hard on the man.