Internet War

This whole thing about a distributed group called "Anonymous" targeting the Church of Scientology is fascinating to me. I think when this is all over, people are going to study this in preparation for modern cyberwarfare. In case you're unfamiliar with the declaration of war and subsequent strikes against Scientology, here's a synopsis:

A NOTORIOUS group of internet users known as "Anonymous" have taken down a Scientology website after declaring war on the church.

Anonymous, whose membership included hackers, has begun a "third wave" of attacks in the week-old operation dubbed “Project Chanology”.

The group has already flooded Scientology servers, preventing access to at least one of the church's websites.

Chief executive of the security firm Alan Phillips told Sky News in the UK that the group may have used a denial of service attack to take the Scientology website out of service.


The group also claimed to have downloaded many of the church’s “secret documents” – which can now be downloaded from popular file-sharing sites.

We might be witnessing the opening salvos of the first widely popular "crowdwar."

Make no mistake, what the group that calls itself Anonymous is doing is terrorism. They're using a blend of legal and illegal tactics to bring Scientology down. Obviously, the DOS attacks are illegal. Posting copyrighted, private material is illegal, too. Funny thing is, I find myself rooting for Anonymous even though their tactics are deplorable.

And I'm not alone. A simple visit to Digg, Fark, reddit, or pretty much any of the social bookmarking/social news sites will demonstrate that the word is spreading quickly and that many Internet users are behind Anonymous all the way.

I'll not defend Scientology, because their tactics are just as scummy and I look at this as Xenu getting his comeuppance, but if you think about this situation in the context of political systems, it's obvious that we're heading toward a world where tyranny of the majority is reality. In other words, organizational or individual rights won't matter as much as pleasing the masses such that they don't openly attack your assets in illegal ways. Call it hacker rule if you will.

So far, we've seen denial of service attacks to take Scientology websites offline, leaked internal materials, plenty of war declarations and "rah-rah" support videos on YouTube, widespread popularizing of anti-Scientology stories through social news sites, and a lot this bubbling up to the mainstream media. Near as I can tell, there's no unifying strategy, just a lot of people participating in whatever way they're comfortable, whether it's Digging a story, posting to blogs and online forums, or working with the hackers.

Mark my words, this is a significant social event and people are going to be studying it for years to come.