On August 23, 2011, Anonymous released a video endorsing the September 17, 2011 planned “Day of Rage” occupation of Wall Street and other financial areas around the world. Specifically, in its video, Anonymous urges protesters on September 17th to “flood into lower Manhattan, set up tents, kitchens, peaceful barricades and occupy Wall Street for a few months … Once there, we shall incessantly repeat one simple demand in a plurality of voices.”
This endorsement might seem fairly harmless. On the other hand, those in the financial sector are urged to take this implicit threat pretty seriously. According to a duo of FBI agents talking today at a public briefing regarding the entry of Anonymous to the September 17th efforts, financial institutions are advised to step up their network security during the next few days. In fact, a recent FBI crackdown on Anonymous may be tied to S17. Given there is deliberately no leadership core within Anonymous, all that can be hoped is that on the 17th its members choose to take a day off from clicking on a computer; and instead take a relaxing train ride downtown.
Update: September 19, 2011
As of Monday morning, the “Day of Rage” event showed no publicly reported increase in data security events. It is estimated that several thousand attended the rally in New York City but there was not much in the way of media reporting given it was largely a peaceful event.
Update: September 28, 2011
On September 23, 2011, the FBI’s Cyber Division issued the following informational bulletin to Infragard members:
For situational awareness, the following message was posted online by the hacking group Anonymous:
Anonymous announces a nationwide “Day Of Vengence” to take place in dozens of cities across the USA on Saturday – September 24, 2011 at High Noon. In coordination with these protests across the USA on September 24th, Anonymous and other cyber liberation groups will launch a series of cyber attacks against various targets including Wall Street, Corrupt Banking Institutions – and the NYC Police Department. We encourage the media to follow the Twitter feed @PLF2012 for ongoing reports throughout the day.
Additional public source information has identified possible targets of these attacks, to include entities in New York (state and city), public and private entities associated with the recent execution of Troy Davis in the state of Georgia, and law enforcement in general.
No further information is available at this time in regard to the specific nature, means, or potential targets of Anonymous’ plans for September 24th; however, in the past, Anonymous has engaged in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, utilized SQL injection to gain unauthorized access to computer systems, conducted social engineering to gather personal identifying information, and released both personal information (i.e. “doxing”) and the contents of compromised systems (e.g. e-mail message content, passwords, etc.).
InfraGard members are encouraged to engage in information security best practices, such as using strong passwords, not reusing passwords, updating software to protect against known vulnerabilities, and ensuring that web-based applications are not at risk to attacks, such as SQL injection.
September 24, 2011 came and went without any publicly disclosed incident tied to this threat. The hope is that the FBI’s future warnings are not ignored given the lack of traction of these recent Anonymous warnings. Bottom line: Safeguarding against SQL injection exploits is obviously sound advice with or without an Anonymous threat.
Update: October 12, 2011
Although similar to the October 8-11, 1969 “Days of Rage” riots in Chicago that led to the arrest of several hundred Weatherman radicals, the current Wall Street “Days of Rage” protesters are not facing nearly as much opposition from the police or popular media. Moreover, despite the Anonymous threat, there have been no reports of cyber incidents directly tied to this protest. RIM, however, has faced several recent outages. Although RIM has publicly stated that these Blackberry blackouts were caused by a “core switch failure”, given that there is still strong Blackberry usage in the financial sector, it will be interesting to hear in a few months time whether there was anything else that contributed to these blackouts.
Update: November 13, 2011
Much has happened since the first Day of Rage took place several months ago on Wall Street — including its morphing into a national “Occupy” movement in cities around the country. It’s generally been tough going for these occupiers. There have been deaths in the Occupy Oakland and Occupy Burlington protests as well as a death at the one in Salt Lake City; a tuberculosis outbreak hit Occupy Atlanta; and the starting point at Zuccotti Park near Wall Street has seen its share of viruses and STDs thin the ranks. As for Anonymous, the general consensus is that the hype they generated yielded PR benefits to the organization even though to date they apparently have not been directly involved in any related cyber-security incident.