Anonymous Hackers Attack Trade Groups Over Cyber-Security Legislation

The hacktivist collective launched DoS attacks on USTelecom and TechAmerica over their support of the CISPA cyber-security proposal.

The Anonymous hacker collective, which in recent days has made headlines for attacking hundreds of Chinese government and commercial Websites, reportedly is turning its attention to U.S. trade organizations that have come out in support of stronger proposed cyber-security legislation.

The group in recent days has launched denial-of-service (DoS) attacks on the Websites of TechAmerica and USTelecom, two trade groups that represent such tech heavyweights as IBM, Apple, AT&T and Verizon Communications, and have spoken out in support of the proposed Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA), a bipartisan bill designed to better enable U.S. government agencies and businesses to voluntarily share information about cyber-attacks.

The DoS attacks were designed to disrupt the associations€™ online presence, according to a report on the Bloomberg Website. Users reportedly had trouble connecting with the USTelecom site starting April 8, and a spokesperson said the site was still having troubles a day later. The TechAmerica site couldn€™t load April 9, and as of noon ET April 10, it was still not loading.

Anonymous hackers took to YouTube to get their messages out. In a two-minute video April 7, the hackers said CISPA and other proposed legislation posed threats to their activities.

€œThe more bills that are passed that target both the people and our domain, the Internet, the more we will commit to stand our ground and defend it,€ a voice on the video says, calling any organization that supports the legislation enemies. €œWe will unleash the worst pain on those who threaten our existence.€

In another video posted April 8, the group showed USTelecom€™s site being down.

CISPA was introduced by congressmen on both sides of the aisle€”Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and C.A. Ruppersberger (D-Md.). While tech companies and trade groups have supported the bill, some other digital rights groups, like the Center for Democracy and Technology, have concerns about such issues as privacy.

In separate statements, the CEOs of USTelecom and TechAmerica said that Anonymous€™ actions validate the need for legislation like CISPA.

€œ[B]y launching a cyber-attack in an effort to coerce, intimidate and stifle speech, members of Anonymous are acting contrary to the very freedoms and Internet norms that they espouse," USTelecom President and CEO Walter McCormick said in a statement. "Ironically, by their actions, Anonymous hacktivists underscore the importance of speedy action on the bipartisan ... legislation to ensure that the Internet remains an open and safe forum for all."

Shawn Osborne, president and CEO of TechAmerica, agreed.

"These types of strong-arm tactics have no place in the critical discussions our country needs to be having about our cyber-security; they just underscore the importance of them," Osborne said in a statement.