Think twice before using the LOIC in support of WikiLeaks

Feeling a bit adventurous and your inner geek is dying to try out the Low Orbital Ion Cannon (LOIC) to support WikiLeaks sympathizers?

Does joining the group of hactivists ‘Anonymous’ appeal to your senses?

You better think twice before downloading the LOIC tool and joining the network of volunteers carrying out DDoS attacks to companies and web sites that have severed their ties or services to WikiLeaks.

Screenshot Low Orbit Ion Cannon

Using the LOIC isn't so anonymous reports a group of computer scientists

A group of computer scientists led by Dr Aiko Pras from the University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands has found out that volunteers who use the LOIC tool and join in the attacks coordinated by ‘Anonymous’ can easily be traced and identified by diligent investigators.

In their recently published report Dr Pras’ group answer ((Pras, A. et al (2010). Attacks by “anonymous” wikileaks proponentsnot anonymous. Retrieved from http://www.simpleweb.org/reports/loic-report.pdf)) one of the critical questions when using the LOIC tool:

Does LOIC provide anonyminity?

In a lab-test conducted at the University of Twente, LOIC has been used to flood a fictitious target machine. The target has been equipped to analyze the traffic it was receiving by the LOIC tool. It became clear, already with the first analysis, that the tool does not take any precautions to obfuscate the origin of the attack. This means that the IP address of the attacker is included in the packets sent to the victim. The simplicity of the attack came to a surprise, since techniques are already known to obfuscate attack traffic. An example is IP spoofing, that substitute the original IP of the attacker with a fake one.

Basically, for the average user of the LOIC tool, it is like he was asked to send a menace letter with a return address.

Remember that two persons have already been arrested in Holland for allegedly coordinating the attacks. With carrying out DDoS attacks illegal in Europe and most countries, using the LOIC tool poses serious legal concerns for would be volunteers.

Though I’m not discounting the possibility that someone in Anonymous is already trying to find a fix for this issue and making a new LOIC that is completely ‘anonymous’ to use.

Screenshot image by jeffmcneill

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