For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
That seems to be the maxim of the shady online hacktivisit collective Anonymous at least, as several Twitter accounts that identified themselves as members of the loose-knit hacker group on Thursday boasted of taking down the websites of the U.S. Justice Department, the Recording Industry Association of America and Universal Music in retaliation for the U.S. governmentÂ shutting down MegaUpload.com and charging its founders with extensive copyright violations.
Indeed, at the time of this post’s publication, all of the websites were offline.
“Tango down! http://universalmusic.com & http://www.justice.gov// #Megaupload,” the Twitter account @AnonOpsÂ tweeted on late Thursday evening.
“Justice.gov & universalmusic.com TANGO DOWN! You should have EXPECT US! #Megaupload,” the accountÂ tweeted shortly thereafter.
“Anonymous/Megaupload backlash update: http://RIAA.ORG is now Tango Down | #OpPayback #OpMegaupload #SOPA #PIPA,”Â tweeted another account, @YourAnonNews.
TheÂ bust of MegaUpload.com (the “Megabust,” as it was) was heralded by the Justice Department in a news release Thursday afternoon as one of “the largest criminal copyright cases ever brought by the United States.”
The Justice Department said that its indictment charged 7 people affiliated with the companies Megaupload and Vestor for “generating more than $175 million in criminalÂ proceeds and causing more than half a billion dollars in harm to copyright owners.”
The indictment also references correspondence between Megaupload executives and employees and Universal Music Group, in which UMG appeared to be negotiating the terms under which it would allow its content to be licensed for Megaupload’s “Megabox.”
Meanwhile, the Justice Department’s news release was also posted by someone on the websiteÂ Pastebin, a simple text uploading website frequented by Anonymous and used to dump information gleaned from hacks.
But going after the Justice Department’s website probably isn’t the brightest idea, given that the feds believe that DDoS attacks are a crimeÂ and have charged members of the group Anonymous for such efforts in the past.
There is no evidence in this case that DDoS was used, but it is a signature method of Anonymous hackers. TPM wasÂ briefly taken offline in September 2011 due to aÂ DDoS attack which came after we published photos of Anonymous suspects charged earlier in the year.
More to follow. Stay tuned.
First update: The website of the MPAA also appears down at this time, and the @AnonOpsÂ Twitter account also claimed responsibility.
Second update: It’s also worth pointing out the the DOJ has previously successfully used a “Stored Communications Act” order toÂ force Twitter to hand over account user information in criminal investigations. The Boston Police Department also recently successfully used a “secret subpoena” to obtain Twitter user account information. So whoever is behind the Anonymous accounts is potentially at risk of having that happen to them, too.
Third update: The U.S. Copyright Office is also down, andÂ another Anonymous Twitter account has also taken credit.
Fourth update: Anonymous Twitter accounts are also threatening to take down the FBI, the White House, and the music label BMI, according to various sources around the Web. All of those websites remain online at the time of this posting.Â Sam Biddle atÂ Gizmodo reported he gained access to an IRC Chat for the Operation, dubbed #OpMegaupload, and copied a revealing quote from an Anonymous member “Danzu: STOP EVERYTHING, who are we DoSing right now?”
Fifth update: An FBI spokesperson told TPM that “the FBI is monitoring the matter,” but declined further comment.
Sixth update: One Anonymous Twitter account claims this is the “largest attack ever by Anonymous — 5,635 People Confirmed Using #LOIC to Bring Down Sites!” LOIC stands for “low orbit ion cannon,” a commonly used piece of freeware that enables users to simply begin running it and join a botnet to participate in a DDoS attack.
Seventh update: TheÂ MPAA posted an update on Twitter confirming its website and “many others” were targeted in attacks and that the “hacker group Anonymous is claiming responsibility.” The MPAA further states that “We are working with law enforcement to identify those responsible,” and that the industry “has always been a strong supporter of free speech…The Internet is home to creativity, innovation and free speech. We want to keep it that way. Protecting copyrights and protecting free speech go hand in hand.”
Eighth update: The FBI website isÂ now offline as well.