Members of Anonymous launched ‘OpFerguson’ after an unarmed African American teen named Michael Brown was shot and killed by a police offer in Ferguson, Missouri.
Demonstrations and vigils across the small town have taken place since the incident; Brown was shot eight times by a Ferguson cop after an altercation between the two according to reports. The news came just days before the victim was to start college.
In response, members of the hacktivist group Anonymous – the globally dispersed collective members of activists and hackers that have waged several campaigns against law enforcement agencies, government organizations and many other entities – issued a statement asking for changes in the force used by law enforcement.
“To the Ferguson Police Department and any other jurisdictions who are deployed to the protests: we are watching you very closely,” the message continues. “If you abuse, harass – or harm in any way the protesters in Ferguson we will take every web based asset of your departments and governments off line. That is not a threat, it is a promise. If you attack the protesters, we will attack every server and computer you have. We will dox and release the personal information on every single member of the Ferguson Police Department, as well as any other jurisdiction that participates in the abuse. We will seize all your databases and E-Mail spools and dump them on the Internet. This is your only warning.”” read a portion of the statement.
Just a day later, Anonymous hacktivists moved on with #OpFerguson by taking down the Ferguson’s City website, sending email bombs to the website, and leaking details about police officials.
“According to officials, none of the city’s emails were working Monday morning. Anticipating a problem, the mayor of Ferguson had the IT Department take down all personal information from the site on Saturday,” reported KMOV.
Anonymous has been active for about a decade – it’s an anarchist collective of autonomous individuals. The team has been hard to track down by law enforcement agencies; however one anonymous opponent has created a website to track the IP addresses of anonymous hacktivists.
Opferguson.com – Anonymous or Not?
This site was recently launched, claiming to give a voice to those who want to lend a helping hand against law enforcement agencies. It enables a user to choose a target, including the FBI and the Ferguson police force, and take part in a DDoS attack that attempts to flood the server of the target with traffic.
However, the website does things differently in reality. Instead of directing traffic to the intended target, it collects IP addresses of those who log in. The information, according to the creator, is then available to law enforcement to act upon.
“This site is mainly a research project,” the creator, with the Twitter handle “ihazcandy,” told Motherboard over the phone. “It’s designed to see how social media can be used to convince people who would otherwise commit a crime, but in the moment of anger or what-have-you, they steer into a direction of going from a random person flipping burgers at Burger King to attacking the United States.”
The site also featured anonymous style messages across it.
“Today you can help Ferguson.”
“We are launching attacks against our enemies and we want you to not only be involved, but feel like you are making a difference. Because you are!”
Anonymous members were quick to track down the website as bogus. A tweet from one of the member’s account read:
WARNING RT: http://t.co/IsiKjyoQu8 IS NOT A LEGITIMATE WEBSITE. HONEYPOT DETECTED AND GOVERNMENT WILL TRACE YOUR LOCATION. DO NOT CLICK.
However, people still kept logging on the site, despite the news of it being honeypot spreading quickly. Motherboard was also sent a link to some pages of IP addresses, which could reveal the locality of those who pressed the attack button.
“This is why I set up the research projects that I do, and allow law enforcement to see the data in real time,” ihazcandy said. “I’m releasing it publicly so law enforcement does not have to say they are receiving it.”
And the site can collect a lot more than just the IP address, such as phone, emails, etc.
Ihazcandy was also behind the Cyber Hamas Army honeypot website.
While it could be unlikely that the authorities would use the data from the website, ihazcandy is keen for law enforcement agencies to scrutinize it.
Gabriella Coleman, author of an upcoming book on anonymous called ihazcandy’s behavior actually uncommon.
“Anon-haters and trolls have a history of trying to entrap participants, either by stalking them or getting their IP addresses, and working with law enforcement after the fact,” she stated.