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back to article Anonymous hacks MIT websites after Aaron Swartz's death

Hactivist collective Anonymous briefly took over some of MIT's websites earlier this morning to protest against the role computer crime laws may have played in the death of Aaron Swartz. Reddit co-founder and internet activist Swartz was found hanged in his apartment in New York on Friday, having taken his own life at the age of …

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Headline should have been "Anonyputzs swing and miss again!"

".....The Anonymous hackers were careful to say that they didn't blame MIT, even apologising for hijacking the university's websites......" So why hack them and intefere with the studies and work of countless people? Because it was easier to do than actually doing something productive.

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Once again

Anonymous lashes out at the group not responsible for the woes they decry. Their motto of "expect us" should be changed to "expect us to go after someone else".

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Re: Once again

Of course it's exactly this behaviour of cowards like Anonymous that is the cause of the over-reaction of government agencies when they do catch someone like Swartz.

This is "reactionary training 101" - do something outrageous, wait for the government to overreact, then start screaming "look at the wicked police state beating down this poor almost-innocent person". It''s about time governments stopped falling for it. Sure, looks like Swartz broke the law, and maybe he was mentally ill, but the victim (MIT) had come to an agreement with him. The prosecution should have been happy with a plea-bargain for a few hundred hours community service, perhaps some required treatment for his depression, and a hefty enough fine to discourage copycats.

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Anonymous Coward

New motto:

No one expects Anonymous

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Re: New motto:

No one expects Anonymous to make any difference.

There, fixed it for you.

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Anonymous band waggon jumping again

Anonymous called on the government to see the tragedy as a basis to reform computer crime and intellectual property laws and commit to a "free and unfettered internet"

So that would be anonymous promoting a 'free and unfettered internet' where they can censor by DDoS any website they don't like .....

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Anonymous Coward

Err...

"..."Whether or not the government contributed to his suicide, the government's prosecution of Swartz was a grotesque miscarriage of justice, a distorted and perverse shadow of the justice that Aaron died fighting for," the message read...."

Well, that shows how much they know about the law. Prosecutions aren't a miscarriage of justice, that would be finding someone guilty for something they haven't done. Also, why go after MIT, when as far as I recall they said they didn't want charges pressed (correct me if I'm wrong,)

Anonymous are not helping their cause here and yet again come across as know nothing angry young men.

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Re: Err...

His indictment is here (thanks to the Reg):

http://regmedia.co.uk/2011/07/19/aaron_swartz_indictment.pdf

I don't know if MIT / JSTOR wanted to press charges but clearly they assisted in the investigation. It's also clear from reading the indictment there are pretty solid grounds for charging him with various crimes.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Err...

MIT wanted to press charges, JSTOR didn't.

JSTOR have since made the files freely available.

Note: the researchers & writers of the documents received no income; money only went to the publishers.

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Re: Err...

Well, some of it went to the publishers, The rest went to running JSTOR itself, which as I have pointed out elsewhere is a non-profit organisation run by a consortium of universities in order to make research papers more widely and more cheaply available throughout the academic world.

Undermining JSTOR to complain about high subscription prices to journals (a perfectly valid complain) was like raiding the Medecins sans Frontiers drugs store to complain about pharmaceutical prices.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Err...

I'm just linking this as another pov. I'm no expert in any of this, but some claims made in this article make it seem different.

http://io9.com/5975592/aaron-swartz-died-innocent-++-here-is-the-evidence

Yeah, going to anon this. Posting a gawker website as evidence? I'd downvote myself , but it seems well written and discusses various points.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Prosecutions aren't a miscarriage of justice

Er

"The Supreme Court held that the state must avoid even the appearance of vindictiveness

and therefore could not indict defendant on the higher charge. The Court stated that the right

a defendant asserts in a vindictive prosecution claim is the "right not to be haled into court" ...

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Anonymous Coward

@ Matt Byrant

Everyone knows Anonymous uses DDOS attacks in order to protest things that they do not like, in this case the prosecutorial overreach of the American Government and MIT; who frankly deserve much worse than what Anonymous has done.

Some protests are productive in their own right even if all they do is draw more attention to the injustice. One man's hacker is yet another mans freedom fighter.

Maybe, someone will figure out that you should not be allowed to hound and bully brilliant but fragile minds under the mere pretense of proving a legal point. As pointed out in the article, if he had downloaded the papers one at a time, there would have been no crime. The fact remains is he wrote a script (and ran it on a computer) to automate the chore, so now the "gubberment" calls this hacking.

If there was no real crime to speak of, then why does the legal system find the need to try to kill people by inducing mental agony through unneccessary legal action? They already know the potential outcome, why are they allowed to proceed when there was no "real" crime committed?

These cases prove that it is government itself that makes violence the last refuge of those who can get no just resolution through the courts.

I commend Anonymous for their actions in this case.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Matt Byrant

Eh?

Did you just arrange a load of sentences with no logical coherence after each other in a random order?

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Re: @ Matt Byrant

1. "prosecutorial overreach of the American Government and MIT"

MIT have no prosecutorial reach, let alone, overreach; they also didn't want to press charges.

2. "As pointed out in the article, if he had downloaded the papers one at a time, there would have been no crime. The fact remains is he wrote a script (and ran it on a computer) to automate the chore, so now the "gubberment" calls this hacking."

As pointed out in the article JSTOR charge a fee for each paper; the script he wrote didn't automate a chore, it bypassed the POS; what he did was steal ‘millions of dollars’ worth of research and academic papers, hardly a noble cause.

3. "If there was no real crime to speak of, then why does the legal system find the need to try to kill people by inducing mental agony through unneccessary legal action? They already know the potential outcome, why are they allowed to proceed when there was no "real" crime committed?"

See 2.

4. "These cases prove that it is government itself that makes violence the last refuge of those who can get no just resolution through the courts."

I may be wrong, but I've never heard of Anonymous trying to take anyone to court, thus rendering this point moot.

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Re: @ Matt Byrant

I was right with you until "what he did was steal ‘millions of dollars’ worth of research", because he didn't.

He didn't steal anything, copyright infringement is NOT theft no mater what the scary bit at the start of your DVD says.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Matt Byrant

Not wanting to be too pedantic, but he was charged with fraud and data theft, not copyright infringement. If he was charged for theft, it stands to reason that something was stolen, by him...

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Matt Byrant

AC@ 14.20

Rubbish - unless you don't believe "innocent until proven guilty".

Why bother with trials, just charge them & locke them up.

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Re: @ Matt Byrant

right wing biggot frothes at mouth and bravely talks bollocks from behind his firewall

(matt can see russia from his back porch doncherknow)

film at 11

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Re: Naughtyhorse Re: @ Matt Byrant

".....matt can see russia from his back porch doncherknow....." It would seem that would be an improvement over your blinkered outlook, which leaves you unable to see anything unless it is writ in crayon for you.

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Re: @ Matt Byrant

Are you saying that brilliant but fragile minds should be allowed to get away with things that brilliant but robust minds should not?

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Re: @ Matt Byrant

No, obviously no one is saying that. Nice try moving the goalposts though.

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Re: @ Matt Byrant

He wrote Maybe, someone will figure out that you should not be allowed to hound and bully brilliant but fragile minds under the mere pretense of proving a legal point.

OK, so if brilliant and robust minds are out, how about feeble but fragile? OK or not?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Matt Byrant

1. "prosecutorial overreach of the American Government and MIT" WARNING, ALL CAPS BELOW BECAUSE THERE IS NO EASY TOOL TO ALLOW TEXT COLOR CHANGES TO DIFFERENTIATE POINT BY POINT RESPONSES.

MIT have no prosecutorial reach, let alone, overreach; they also didn't want to press charges. AAH BUT THEY AND JSTOR DID PRESS CHARGES LONG ENOUGH TO GET THE BLOODY FEDS INVOLVED OR NONE OF THIS WOULD HAVE HAPPENED.

2. "As pointed out in the article, if he had downloaded the papers one at a time, there would have been no crime. The fact remains is he wrote a script (and ran it on a computer) to automate the chore, so now the "gubberment" calls this hacking."

As pointed out in the article JSTOR charge a fee for each paper; the script he wrote didn't automate a chore, it bypassed the POS; what he did was steal ‘millions of dollars’ worth of research and academic papers, hardly a noble cause.

AND JSTOR LATER GAVE AWAY ALL THE DATA AT NO CHARGE, PROVING THAT ORIGINAL CHARGES WERE FALSE AND MALICIOUS AND THERE WAS NO DAMAGE TO CHARGE HIM WITH ANYTHING.

BY EXTENSION, THE ILLEGAL PROSECUTION RESULTED IN HIS SUICIDE SO THIS IS A CASE OF AT LEAST "ATTEMPTED MURDER".

3. "If there was no real crime to speak of, then why does the legal system find the need to try to kill people by inducing mental agony through unneccessary legal action? They already know the potential outcome, why are they allowed to proceed when there was no "real" crime committed?"

See 2. SINCE JSTOR GAVE IT ALL AWAY, EXACTLY, NO FUUKKIN CRIME WAS COMMITTED. THERE WERE NO ACTUAL DAMAGES (EXCEPT THOSE THAT DAMAGED HIS MIND!)

4. "These cases prove that it is government itself that makes violence the last refuge of those who can get no just resolution through the courts."

I may be wrong, but I've never heard of Anonymous trying to take anyone to court, thus rendering this point moot.

NO ONE CAN EVER SPEAK FOR THE DEAD, EVEN IF THEY HAD THEIR DAY IN COURT! ALL LEGAL SYSTEMS ARE STACKED AGAINST PEOPLE WHO WILL NOT KOW TOW TO THE GOVERNMENT. NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN USA AND OLD SOVIET REPUBLIC IN THE WAY THESE CASES ARE HANDLED! THE ONLY WAY TO FIGHT A STACKED LEGAL SYSTEM IS THROUGH PROTEST, DDOS OR THE OTHER WAY.

(So you say you WANT a Revolution?)

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Headmaster

Re: @ John G Imrie - "He didn't steal anything"

Theft is usually legally defined along the lines of "permanently depriving someone of something".

True, he did not steal the actual documents, he simply made copies of those without authority (hence breaching copyright), and in the course of that deprived the copyright holder of income they were rightly entitled to.

"Copyright theft" is simply the term we have adopted to describe that.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Matt Byrant

No Ian, What I am trying to say is that the Federal Gubbermint believe they are completely above the law, the ends justify the means and they can attack anyone or anything, for any reason (EVEN WITHOUT JUST CAUSE) just to prove that you should not mess with NSA, CIA, FBI, ATF, HSD, or whatever alphabet soup of far right nutcases that happens to hold the reins this week.

These agencies are frequently guilty of entrapment by contacting and cultivating easily miss-led people with "issues" and providing them with just enough rope (explosives, guns, etc) to hang themselves (HONESTLY, NO PUN INTENDED) so they commit a bigger crime than they might have been able to had these Fed's not gotten involved.

The end result is big publicity for solving a crime that probably would not have happened otherwise.

In this case someone who made real, significant IT contributions ended up being technically murdered by unjust rampant prosecution for a crime that never happened.

Thats' what I'm trying to say.

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Re: Re: @ Matt Byrant

Oh come on, stop posting as AC! If you're going to post comedy gems like that I'd like to be able to track your work. Oh.... you were serious....?

".....These agencies are frequently guilty of entrapment ....." Yeah, because the FBI/NSA/CIA/bogeyman were all in the network closet with Aaron Swartz, telling him what to do - d'uh!

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Re: Re: @ Matt Byrant

".....AND JSTOR LATER GAVE AWAY ALL THE DATA AT NO CHARGE....." The point is it was NOT free when he committed the act. If you steal my car and the coppers catch you it matters bugger all if I subsequently decide to give my car to someone else.

".....NO FUUKKIN CRIME WAS COMMITTED....." True, there were no sexcrimes committed, but a lot of copyright violations plus some computer crime would seem to have taken place.

"......THERE WERE NO ACTUAL DAMAGES....." Apart from the lost revenue from his batch downloading, and the cost of the network investigation to find his system, and the further possible loss of revenue due to the slow down of the system caused by his unauthorized access. Yeah, apart from that, no damages at all.

".....EXCEPT THOSE THAT DAMAGED HIS MIND....." If you bothered to actually learn something about Aaron Swartz, you would know he had suffered from depression and admitted to suicidal thoughts long before the JSTOR jaunt.

"......(So you say you WANT a Revolution?)" Well, history suggests that for a revolution you require majority support or at least a very dedicated, active, co-ordinated and sizeable minority. You have none of those.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: @ Matt Byrant

No, not in the network closet with Aaron but with this guy

http://abcnews.go.com/US/wireStory/fbi-terrorism-suspect-radicalized-dangerous-18213699

Or this one:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/nov/16/fbi-entrapment-fake-terror-plots

Or these:

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/how-fbi-entrapment-is-inventing-terrorists-and-letting-bad-guys-off-the-hook-20120515

They do stuff like this ALL the time. That bogeyman is real, not imagined.

Let's also not forget "manufactured" incidents at Waco Texas or Ruby Ridge.

You need to open your eyes, take your cultural blinders off and see the "REAL WORLD" and there is nothing funny about it.

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@Naughtyhorse

"right wing biggot frothes at mouth and bravely talks bollocks from behind his firewall (matt can see russia from his back porch doncherknow)film at 11"

You're not actually capable of making intelligent comments, are you?

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@Naughtyhorse

"right wing biggot frothes at mouth and bravely talks bollocks from behind his firewall"

The specific content of the comment aside, that would be "right-wing bigot froths..."

But then I guess "literacy" is not important when, well, uh,... Well I guess I actually *don't* know when literacy is not important. But it sure isn't important to you.

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Anonymous Coward

Er... ummm...

>2. "As pointed out in the article, if he had downloaded the papers one at a time, there would have been no crime. The fact remains is he wrote a script (and ran it on a computer) to automate the chore, so now the "gubberment" calls this hacking."

>As pointed out in the article JSTOR charge a fee for each paper; the script he wrote didn't automate a chore, it bypassed the POS; what he did was steal ‘millions of dollars’ worth of research and academic papers, hardly a noble cause.

Being able to write a script to do this--notwithstanding the fact that the script involved some jiggery-pokery to bypass the POS--and do it reliably for several million (unique) documents, suggests that the process of serving the documents was something that could be handled almost entirely via automata. Which would strongly point at the possibility of there being no need for (much) human agency in making the articles available to interested parties. Which would make them cheaper than dirt...

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@John Gamble

Q:"Are you saying that brilliant but fragile minds should be allowed to get away with things that brilliant but robust minds should not?"

A:"No, obviously no one is saying that. Nice try moving the goalposts though."

Can you point out what exactly makes it "obvious" because I don't see it at all. In fact, what *I* see is that you are willfully misinterpreting the original post about "brilliant but fragile minds". What I also see, is that mental incapacity or psychiatric problems are regularly invoked to shield computer criminals from bearing responsibility for their actions.

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Re: @ Matt Byrant

"No, not in the network closet with Aaron but with this guy...." Those cases have nothing to do with Aaron Swartz or even the team that was looking to prosecute him. It's like me taking an example of some child abuser that committed suicide and conflating it to say ANYONE that commits suicide must be a child abuser, therefore Aaron Swartz was a child abuser - rediculous!

"....They do stuff like this ALL the time....." What, arrest people that conspire to commit criminal and terrorist acts? Good!

".....That bogeyman is real, not imagined....." I haven't a clue what your fervoured imagination has imagined or been "educated" to imagine, but I think the bogeyman you're on about simply doesn't exist. More bad news, but I think it's only fair to point out Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny don't exist either. I'll give you a minute to get over that news.

"....Let's also not forget "manufactured" incidents at Waco Texas or Ruby Ridge....." Ooooh, serious tinfoil issues!

".....You need to open your eyes...." Going on the evidence of your postings, all I can suggest is you disconnect your Internet RIGHT NOW! For your own safety - I was lying, They do exist, and The Bogeymen will "manufacture" an incident if they find out YOU KNOW!!!

(Do I need to put a sarc tag round the last bit?)

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Re: Lars Re: @ Matt Byrant

"Re: Please refrain from using capital letters, it makes anything you write look stupid." Is that the best argument you can add to the discussion, that caps make something "look silly"? Gosh, you must think all keyboards look really silly then!

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Anonymous Coward

May not be such a bad thing

I agree with the criticisms here that Anonymous are not helping their cause and discrediting themselves. Nothing is as wasteful as misguided skills from naive and juvenile minds. However they are exposing security weaknesses in whatever they hack into so their actions are not wasted efforts.

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Re: May not be such a bad thing

Nothing is as wasteful as misguided skills from naive and juvenile minds...

not even an illegal war that kills a million innocent civilians?

just a point of view.

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It's ironic that Anonymous pretends to support the freedom of information when they will shutdown, stalk and harrass anybody that they don't like. As usual it's them making up some pathetic excuse to justify some cyber vandalism.

As for Aaron Swartz, it sounds like he had a lot of problems. It's a tragic situation for his family and friends but I don't see his legal situation was anyone else's fault but his own.

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his legal situation was anyone else's fault but his own

I'm still not sure what it is he is alleged to have done wrong.

He was allowed free access to the papers because of his associate status at MIT.

Apparently there was nothing to say that he couldn't redistribute the papers.

What he seams to have done is automate the process of downloading them and when his system was blocked, changed his MAC address.

I don't recall there being any laws about changing the MAC address of your net work card, or writing a script to automate a boring task.

But then I'm just a Geek, so what do I know.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: his legal situation was anyone else's fault but his own

Perhaps you could start with reading what he was charged with, which laws that contravened, and then come back to us on why it wasn't illegal. That'll probably clarify for you what laws there were against doing what he pretty obviously did do.

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Re: his legal situation was anyone else's fault but his own

"I'm still not sure what it is he is alleged to have done wrong."

Read his indictment then. In plain English, he obtained network access from MIT under false pretenses, used a false alias, opened one of their network cabinets and put a laptop in it on their network, he used a script to grab documents which took down JSTOR, he circumvented attempts to block his IP, he spoofed his MAC address, he inadvertantly caused a denial of service as JSTOR attempted to block more IP addresses, and then he installed a second laptop for similar purposes. All to steal documents from a non-profit service. Then he was caught in possession of property he had stolen from the JSTOR service, property he intended to upload to p2p file servers.

More than enough to charge him really.

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Re: his legal situation was anyone else's fault but his own

MIT had free wifi access, so the IP block is just bollocks - how could you block the IP your system had provided on its own by an DHCP service? It was MAC block which is just as dumb.

He did have free access to the documents for himself by what was funnier - JSTOR provided absolutely free and unlimited access anyone whose IP originated from MIT's network. The website didn't require even the simplest CAPTCHA to prevent automated access.

JSTOR actually stopped the service themselves, instead of adding CAPTCHA or reducing the traffic to an IP after extensive use. That's overreaction on their part. If a single laptop manages to create a DoS the system is very seriously flawed.

Ok, he didn't use Harvard University (he was fellow at that time) network where he also had access. So, probably he attempted to hide his identity but he handled the laptop and the hard disk was not encrypted (a criminal would ensure their steps cannot be easily traced)

Normally I'd not reply, however which of his actions do you think actually equals 'theft'? And which action exactly deserves 3 dozen years in an (American) prison?

I'd think crossing on red light is worse than what Aaron did.

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Re: his legal situation was anyone else's fault but his own

Welcome to the academic world, where people are expected to behave decently and follow the rules. There is nothing - as far as I know - to stop me downloading porn over the UK academic network, but the absence of a block would be no defence at my inevitable dismissal for gross misconduct if I did it. I doubt my employers would be terribly happy if someone hacked into our network to abuse our journal subscriptions either.

Victim blaming is not pretty. Don't do it, please.

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Anonymous Coward

@John G Imrie

"I'm still not sure what it is he is alleged to have done wrong. But then I'm just a Geek, so what do I know."

Very little, apparently. And judging by the fact that you did not read the article or any of the links, you seem to want to keep it that way.

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Anybody else wonder how MIT websites managed to be hacked? MIT is supposed to be THE university to go to for a technical education, right? And they can't secure their own websites against a bunch of script-kiddies? Either someone needs to be hauled over the coals for this, or nobody, anywhere is safe.

I wonder if Anonymous even tried to hack the justice system's website, failed and went to MIT instead, or whether they just decided that was a risk too far and went straight to the soft option.

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Re: rurwin

"Anybody else wonder how MIT websites managed to be hacked?....." Well, let's make a few wild, consipratorial guesses. First off, were the computers "hacked"? They seem to have gone down awful fast, too fast for a brute-force attack. Of course, it would be a lot easier if you had a sympathiser on the inside of the MIT network, that could guide you to the weak spots, amybe slip you a few passwords..... Now, do we think that all the ivory tower folk at MIT and associated institutions (such as Harvard, quite coincidentally the home of one Lawrence Lessig), who might have had access to the network, were overwhelmingly hostile to Swarz's "crusade"? Do you think the minor defacement was quickly cleaned away so MIT doesn't have to answer difficult questions about possible "sympathisers" that may have helped with the defacement, especially if those sympathisers are on the staff of MIT or associated institutions? After all, someone obviously explained to Swarz how the security logged access to JSTOR for him to avoid it for a while by switching IP and MAC addresses, and how did he know which port to plug his laptop into in the switching cupboard without access to a network diagram?

Of course, it could be that the Anonyputzs are actually 1337 hax0rz and they did it all by themselves rather than their usual tricks of just using downloaded scripts and social enginering. Yeah, that made me laugh too!

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Anonymous Coward

US Government websites are another beast, considering all traffic to them or even over one a USG owned router, or "other Information System", is subject to all sorts of crazy restrictions and waivers. So no, I doubt they tried a "hard option" on the US Department of Justice directly. It would be suicidal basically.

MIT was the only way for them to make the required level of noise in reference to the issue without hurting themselves much, if at all.

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Joke

Anonyputzs discover puppypower?

On a lighter note, I wonder if this is another example of misguided Anon rage?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10333211

The moral of the story would seem to be keep taking the meds!

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Re: Anonyputzs discover puppypower?

now I know why this story from 2010 is for some reason in the list of most read pages on the BBC website. I had been wondering all afternoon...

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