New activist tool: Cyber sit-ins

Cyber sit-in aimed to disrupt Michigan government Web site

Dan Lohrmann, Michigan's chief information security officer, found out about the cyber sit-in from a reporter. It was Tuesday, May 15, 2007, and a group calling itself the Electronic Disturbance Theater asked Michigan residents to voice their opposition to proposed cuts in state healthcare programs by targeting the Michigan gov website.

Over the next two days, participants accessed the group's website and downloaded a small browser plug-in that repeatedly hit Michigan.gov. Though Electronic Disturbance Theater sees its actions as a mixture of performance art and civil disobedience, to Lohrmann, it looked very much like a denial-of-service attack. "Had a million people joined in, it would have been interesting," says Lohrmann. "Not in a good way."

To Lohrmann's relief, far fewer than 1 million people hit the Michigan.gov site on the day of the sit-in. Web counters reported a jump of several hundred thousand page views -- about a 10 percent bump in traffic. Cyber sit-ins came of age nearly a decade ago, but recently, these disruptions have been cropping up again.

There was a "sit-in element" to the attacks on Estonia's online infrastructure, according to Jose Nazario, senior security engineer at Arbor Networks. Though many of these attacks were conducted via networks of hacked, botnet computers, the attackers also created code that anybody could download to voluntarily turn their PC into part of the protest.

Lohrmann was struck by the type of people who were drawn into the Michigan protest. "This was parents working with bad guys," he says.

Unlike DoS attacks, cyber sit-ins do not really have to disrupt service to be effective, says Dorothy Denning, professor of defense analysis at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey. Like the sit-in protests of the 1960s, these actions are effective whenever they bring publicity to a particular cause. "That's mostly what they do," she says. Electronic Disturbance Theater may not have taken down Michigan.gov last May, but the Michigan press and this magazine covered the cyber sit-in, Denning points out. "Obviously they're getting a little publicity," she says. And that may just be enough for the activists.

Join the newsletter!

Or
Error: Please check your email address.
Rocket to Success - Your 10 Tips for Smarter ERP System Selection
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Robert McMillan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Ben Ramsden

Sharp PN-40TC1 Huddle Board

Brainstorming, innovation, problem solving, and negotiation have all become much more productive and valuable if people can easily collaborate in real time with minimal friction.

Sarah Ieroianni

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

The print quality also does not disappoint, it’s clear, bold, doesn’t smudge and the text is perfectly sized.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?