Who’s DDoSing Anti-Racism Groups?

In the days after George Floyd’s death, the websites of several anti-racism or black-rights groups have seen huge denial-of-service attacks. At least 140 billion requests on Sunday alone.

Who to blame? It’s tricky without firm evidence, but it’s easy to play cui bono?

Why can’t we all get along? In today’s SB Blogwatch, we need a great big melting pot.

Your humble blogwatcher curated these bloggy bits for your entertainment. Not to mention: ALGOL 60 at 60.


The Ultimate Whataboutists

What’s the craic? Thomas Brewster reports—“Huge Cyberattacks Attempt To Silence Black Rights Movement”:

 It’s unclear who is behind the attacks, but they included attempts to neuter anti-racist organizations’ freedom of speech. [They] went from seeing almost no attacks on their sites to significant attempts to knock them offline [including] nearly 140 million likely malicious requests to load their websites.

[Also] attacks on government, police and emergency services websites were up 1.8 times and 3.8 times on military websites. … Last week, the Minneapolis Police Department website was down after a reported DDoS attack.

And Aunty adds—“Anti-racism sites hit by wave of cyber-attacks”:

 DDoS attacks – short for Distributed Denial of Service – are a relatively simple cyber-attack tool, in which the attacker tries to flood a website or other online service with so many fake “users” that it cannot cope. The effect is that it gets knocked offline for people trying to access information or services.

The problem was particularly acute for certain types of organisations. One single website belonging to an unnamed advocacy group dealt with 20,000 requests a second.

Where’s the data come from? Matthew Prince and John Graham-Cumming—“Cyberattacks since the murder of George Floyd”:

 As we’ve often seen in the past, real world protest and violence is usually accompanied by attacks on the Internet. This past week has been no exception.

Over the weekend of May 30/31, Cloudflare blocked 135,535,554,303 cyberattack HTTP requests. That represents a month-on-month increase of 17%: an extra 19,218,206,962 … cyberattack HTTP requests were blocked (an extra 110,000 blocked requests per second).

The category with the biggest increase in cyberattacks was Advocacy Groups with a staggering increase of 1,120x. … One particular attacker, likely using a hacked server in France, was especially persistent and kept up an attack continuously hitting an advocacy group continuously for over a day.

Those who have taken to the streets in protest to demand justice and an end to structural racism … can serve as catalysts for real change. But that requires them to be heard. Unfortunately, if recent history is any guide, those who speak out against oppression will continue to face cyberattacks that attempt to silence them.

The $64 question? Who is behind the attacks? Koreantoast suggests a certain nation wants to “setup (sic) some false equivalences”:

 China … just needs enough street chaos and a few juicy video clips that they can use to create false equivalences between street protests in the United States and Hong Kong. Then, they can use it to justify the bloodletting that Hong Kong is about to get.

Never mind … the fact that if Chinese protesters were protesting in front of Zhongnanhai the way American protestors are in front of the White House, the People’s Liberation Army would have already run them over with tanks and sent the survivors off to the Gobi Desert for “re-education.”

Anyone else? Ryan Heath and Mark Scott see “Alarm mixed with glee”:

 The world is watching closely as chaotic protests … convulse U.S. cities. And authoritarian leaders … seem thrilled.

The Chinese government condemned the “serious problems” of police brutality and said “racial discrimination against minorities is a social ill in the United States.” Ignoring the irony, authorities in Hong Kong on Monday refused permission for an annual Tiananmen Square Massacre vigil on June 4 for the first time in 30 years.

The Russian foreign ministry, meanwhile, took the chance Sunday to lecture the U.S. on media freedom. … RIA Novosti correspondent Mikhail Turgiev was pepper sprayed in Minneapolis, prompting the ministry to express concern “about the increased number of police violence cases and unjustified detentions of journalists during their coverage of protest,” [adding] “We consider it unacceptable for US law enforcement officials to use … rubber bullets and tear gas against media representatives after they present their press cards.”

Russia and China are also flooding social media with online propaganda. … Since May 30, government officials, state-backed media outlets and other Twitter users linked to Beijing or Moscow have increasingly piggybacked on hashtags linked to Floyd … to push divisive messages and criticize Washington’s handling of the unfolding crisis.

At which, brundolf is righteously thirsty:

 I know this isn’t a time for laughing but I nearly spit out my drink when it said China was speaking out about our police brutality, and Russia was lecturing us on media freedoms. They can’t be unaware of how comical that is.

[The US] is spiraling into disaster. But we still have a ways to go before we’re on the same level as either of those places. … China is the global poster-child for police brutality, and Russia for state-run propaganda media.

Back on topic, please. Here’s Chris Hauk’s historical perspective:

 The attacks on civil rights groups online are a sobering reminder that while the internet can be a tool for change, it can also be used by those that cling to their racist beliefs.

As someone who grew up in the 1960s, I witnessed first hand the expansion of the civil rights movement, and I know how vital … the NAACP and other civil rights groups … can be to our society.

But cecja alleges a plank in Cloudflare’s corporate eye:

 They are the providers of DDoS protection of all the white supremacist forums you can think of—or don’t even want to think of. … If it wasn’t so sad it would be actually funny.

Citation needed. Anyway, it’s surely time to have a pop at Facebook. So Judd Legum obliges—“Facebook runs ad from Congressional candidate urging people to shoot “looting hordes””:

 On May 29, Facebook began running an incendiary paid ad from Georgia Congressional candidate Paul Broun (R). In the ad, Broun urges people to use their “Liberty Machines” to take care of “looting hordes from Atlanta.” … Broun explains he’s referring to an AR-15 rifle, which he repeatedly fires in the video … which also ran on Instagram.

[I] emailed Facebook regarding Broun’s ad. … A few hours later, the ad was removed. “We removed this ad … for violating our policies against inciting violence,” Facebook spokesman Andy Stone said. But by that time, the ad had already run for more than five days [and] was shown over 50,000 times to people in Georgia.

On Wednesday, another Republican Congressional candidate in Georgia, Marjorie Taylor Greene, began running an Faceboook advertisement advocating violence. In the ad, Green cocks a semi-automatic rifle while she delivers a message to “ANTIFA terrorists”: “Stay the hell out of Northwest Georgia.”

[I] contacted Facebook about the ad on Thursday morning. A few hours later, the ad was removed. By that time that ad had already been shown 50,000 times to Facebook users in Georgia. Facebook [said] it took down Green’s ad for the same reason it took down Broun’s ad.

Meanwhile, a stoic BringsApples lives in Alabama:

 Friendly reminder: … Some people are making life suck for the rest. This has been going on forever. It won’t end, ever. Adjust your expectations for the universe to accommodate a mentality that is capable of accepting that the universe isn’t perfect, and doesn’t care to be. … Try love.

And Finally:

Prof. Brailsford is 75, but ALGOL 60 is only 60

Previously in And Finally


You have been reading SB Blogwatch by Richi Jennings. Richi curates the best bloggy bits, finest forums, and weirdest websites … so you don’t have to. Hate mail may be directed to @RiCHi or sbbw@richi.uk. Ask your doctor before reading. Your mileage may vary. E&OE.

Image sauce: Philippe Agnifili (cc:by-nd)

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Richi Jennings

Richi is a foolish independent industry analyst, editor, writer, and fan of the Oxford comma. He’s previously written or edited for Computerworld, Petri, Microsoft, HP, Cyren, Webroot, Micro Focus, Osterman Research, Ferris Research, NetApp on Forbes and CIO.com. His work has won awards from the American Society of Business Publication Editors, ABM/Jesse H. Neal, and B2B Magazine.

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