Protesting Iranians were already using new technology like Twitter to coordinate their efforts, as we noted on Monday. Now those protests are taking a new direction–with simple crowd-sourced denial of service (DDos) attacks being aimed directly at government sites.
The really interesting thing about these attacks are not that they’re going on–DDoS attacks after elections apparently isn’t a new phenomenon–but how they’re being carried out. Rather than using simple code, with automated viral botnets and the like, these efforts are largely being driven by hand. There are a number of simple scripts going around that can be downloaded and which continually re-load the target Web sites in a browser window. It’s a simpler system, being coordinated by word of mouth, Twitter and other means, but it appears to be effective–all the target sites are offline, or have bandwidth issues. In a test yesterday, Villeneuve found the following were unavailable:
16/06/09 12:18www.iranjudiciary.org/184.108.40.206(51, “Network is unreachable”)
16/06/09 12:18rajanews.com/10.7.222.162(51, “Network is unreachable”)
16/06/09 12:18www.farsnews.com/220.127.116.11(61, “Connection refused”)
16/06/09 12:18www.leader.ir/18.104.22.168(61, “Connection refused”)
16/06/09 12:18www.president.ir/22.214.171.124timed out
16/06/09 12:18www1.farsnews.com126.96.36.199timed out
16/06/09 12:18www.irna.ir/188.8.131.52timed out
16/06/09 12:18www.police.ir/184.108.40.206timed out
16/06/09 12:18www.mfa.gov.ir/220.127.116.11timed out
And the subtlety that this is a crowd-sourced form of cyber war, or cyber revolution, rather than an anonymous automated network of infected PCs, shouldn’t go unnoticed. The new technological infrastructure is giving people a way to protest and act in ways that wouldn’t have been possible before. While the morality of DDoS attacks remains a grey area, it’s nevertheless a fascinating V for Vendetta-style effect in action.
On a related note, there was a brief flurry of worry yesterday that the BoingBoing site, which has been covering the Iranian issue and Tweeting about it, was suffering a retaliatory DDoS attack, possibly Iranian government-sourced. This isn’t the case, as Joel Johnson has tweeted to confirm this. The powers that be are instead contenting themselves with restricting the activities of foreign journalists inside the country.