Is Hacker Group ‘Anonymous’ Attempting To Bring Down Facebook?

The much-publicised, shadowy collective of politically-motivated hackers known as Anonymous has, apparently, threatened to bring down Facebook on November 5th, a date synonymous with uprising and revolt (for those who know their British history anyway).

In a video posted on YouTube, a distorted voice claiming to represent the ‘hacktivists’ warns of the upcoming hack on the hugely popular social networking platform, citing Facebook’s misuse and misappropriation of personal data as the reason for the impending attack.

The video (which is included below), discusses how Facebook appropriates and shares your personal data, making some interesting and pertinent accusations:

Facebook has been selling information to government agencies and giving clandestine access to information security firms so that they can spy on people from all around the world. Some of these so-called whitehat infosec firms are working for authoritarian governments, such as those of Egypt and Syria.

Everything you do on Facebook stays on Facebook regardless of your privacy settings, and deleting your account is impossible. Even if you delete your account, all your information stays on Facebook and can be recovered at any time.

Facebook are yet to respond to the video, which was posted last month, but has seen a substantial increase in circulation and publicity over the last few days.

So can we expect to see Facebook destroyed on November 5th? Not everyone thinks so. Eugene Kaspersky, co-founder of Kasperksy Lab, has suggested that the video could be a fake. In a Tweet sent out not long after the video began to go viral, he said:

The news around #Anonymous to attack #Facebook on November 5th is most probably fake. Pay attention to the strange Twitter name they used, and links to websites with adverts.

Whether or not this is the case remains to be seen, but given that Anonymous is thought to be a loose collective of like-minded hackers from around the world (rather than a singular entity with a noted leader and direction), it’s more than possible that this is the intention of a small section of ‘Anons’, rather than the whole group.

According to @GroupAnon, a high-profile Twitter account following the activities of the Anonymous hacktivists, this is indeed the case. In a Tweet responding to the questioning of the videos authenticity and accuracy when it came to the intentions of the hacking group, they said:

#OpFacebook is being organised by some Anons. This does not necessarily mean that all of #Anonymous agrees with it.

So are the hacking group targeting the social media giant? Possibly. But if they are they certainly aren’t doing so as a coherent group, with some Anon related Twitter accounts responding directly to recent reports with clear denials:

Even if the video (and the subsequent threat) is legitimate, it remains to be seen whether or not the hacking group would even be able to bring down such a popular and powerful site, particularly in the long-term. The usual method of attack from the group is a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, whereby a network of remotely accessed computers bombards a website with requests, overloading the server and preventing access for regular users. I’m unsure this would even work on Facebook, as the site is used to dealing with a phenomenal amount of requests anyway, and as such possesses huge amounts of server space (not unlike Amazon, who the group tried and failed to attack at the end of 2010). Even if the attack were to prove successful, to have any kind of long-term impact the attack would need to be continued indefinitely, which I simply can’t imagine is a likely eventuality.

Post by John Pring – Follow him on Twitter (@john_pring)

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