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Security roundup: Anonymous attacks DOJ, RIAA sites; Israeli-Palestinian cyberconflict escalates

Anonymous said to be considering attacks on those in Congress supporting SOPA; FBI busts programmer

By , Network World
January 20, 2012 03:57 PM ET

Network World - Angered by the move by federal authorities to shut down the popular website Megaupload on charges it illegally shared movies, TV shows and e-books, hackers said to be working on behalf of the hactivist group Anonymous late yesterday launched denial-of-service attacks against a number of websites, including that of the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA).

Both the DOJ and RIAA sites appeared to be back up Friday, however.

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About the Megaupload takedown, RIAA Chairman and CEO Cary Sherman said, "We are deeply grateful to the Justice Department professionals who worked tirelessly on this case for two years. Federal law enforcement has delivered a historic blow against one of the most notorious illegal distribution hubs in the world. The indictment outlines a sinister scheme to generate massive profits through the distribution of the stolen intellectual property of others."

The DOJ said the indictment pertains to Megaupload.com and Vestor Limited and seven individuals: Kim Dotcom a.k.a. Kim Schmitz and Kim Tim Jim Vestor, a resident of both Hong Kong and New Zealand who the DOJ said is the leader of the criminal enterprise; and Finn Batato, Julius Bencko, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, Andrus Nomm and Bram van der Kolk, all citizens in countries across Western Europe, Slovakia and the Baltic states.

The DOJ said "Dotcom founded Megaupload Limited and is the director and sole shareholder of Vestor Limited, which has been used to hold his ownership interests in the Mega-affiliated sites." 

Some of the accused have been arrested, while law enforcement is said to have executed more than 20 search warrants in the U.S. and eight countries, seizing about $50 million in assets and seizing servers in the U.S., Netherlands and Canada and ordering the seizure of 18 domain names associated with Megaupload.

In its story, the Washington Post notes Swizz Beatz, who is listed on some of the mega sites as the company's chief executive, was not charged. Beatz, a musician, is married to fellow musician Alicia Keys. The Washington Post says the Megaupload site was endorsed by famous entertainers who include Kanye West, Kim Kardashian and rappers P. Diddy and Will.i.am. An attorney representing Megaupload, a Hong Kong-based company, said it wasn't given a chance to be heard and would contest the shutdown by the U.S. government. The Post cites sources claiming Megaupload executives made more than $175 million through subscription fees and online ads while robbing authors, movie producers and producers of about $500 million.

The Post story also cites one individual, Barrett Brown, said to be a writer working on a book about Anonymous and in close contact with them, saying the hacker group not only wants to take down websites, but is also considering whether to go after members of Congress that support the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). This bill has been one of the most controversial pieces of legislation ever seen in Congress as relates to intellectual property rights and the Internet and has faced widespread opposition, with Wikipedia, as just one example, this week protesting it with a black-out of the Wikipedia site.

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