Dial 'H' For 'Hacker': LulzSec is the Future of the Net

Sony's PlayStation Network, the Spanish police, the U.S. Senate, massively multiplayer online game environments, porn sites -- is there anything LulzSec won't try to hack? We may soon find out.

On Titanic Takeover Tuesday, the digital miscreants known only as Lulz Security (aka LulzSec, aka the Lulz Boat) took down the EVE Online gaming network, a gaming magazine, and a security company. This followed DDoS attacks that took the main website for the Spanish police offline, as well as multiple attacks on the U.S. Senate Web servers and Bethesda Softworks. Before that: Sony, PBS, and some FBI-affiliated security companies.

[ Just as Cringely predicted, 2011 is turning out to be the year hacking goes mainstream. | Stay up to date on all Robert X. Cringely's observations with InfoWorld's Notes from the Underground newsletter and follow Cringely on Twitter. ]

Now LulzSec is offering up its services to the general public. Want somebody hacked? Just leave your request on the dial-in line: 614-LULZSEC. Operators are not standing by.

This may well be just another joke, but the number at least is real. Dial 614-585-9732, and you will hear one of two heavily (fake) accented, electronically distorted outgoing messages. Like this one:

Bonjour! You have reached the voice mail box of Pierre Du Bois and Francois De Lux. We are not available right now as we are busy raping your Internets. Leave a message and we will get back to you whenever we feel like it.

The Lulzers claimed to have received 5,000 calls and 2,500 voice mail messages yesterday, which means they may be busy for some time to come.

At least they're having fun, though I can't imagine the fun will last for very long, given how many serious people they've pissed off. But LulzSec, or people just like them, are the future of Net hacking. And it's going to get really nasty out there before it gets any better -- if it gets better.

My guess (and this is not exactly rocket science) is that LulzSec is a splinter group of Anonymous. Last March, a group calling itself Backtrace Security broke off from Anonymous, complaining that the Anons had gotten too serious and political, away from their anarchic roots. In an interview with Forbes blogger Andy Greenberg, Backtrace said it wanted to get back to "making fun of stupid people on the Internet. Laughing at natural disasters ... not trying to overthrow governments."

Why? Despite its claims of being an anarchistic non-organization, Anonymous still managed to be fairly hierarchical and top-down; an ad hoc committee of experienced hackers makes most of the decisions about whom to target. And it's pretty clear that whoever is leaving those highly articulate manifestos around the WebberNets -- like the one earlier this week calling out NATO -- has probably had a driver's license for a few decades. To wit:

Anonymous would like to remind you that the government and the people are, contrary to the supposed foundations of "democracy," distinct entities with often conflicting goals and desires. It is Anonymous' position that when there is a conflict of interest between the government and the people, it is the people's will which must take priority....

We do not wish to threaten anybody's way of life. We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody. We do not wish to terrorize any nation. We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people -- who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place.

These are not your average script kiddies.

LulzSec, on the other hand? I wouldn't be surprised if most of them were still living in mom and dad's basement, talking about how awesome it is to be getting all this attention. To them, hanging out with the Anons was like having Dad come along when you go out to egg houses and leave graffiti in the middle of the night: a total drag.

LulzSec may in fact be Backtrace under a different name. If not, they're something very much like it. And I'm guessing we're about to see a flotilla of other Anon spinoffs -- digital delinquents with mad hacking skillz and absolutely no adult supervision.

Call it a hacking bubble. No one will be safe.

Many of them will get caught, of course. Three alleged members of Anonymous suspected of the Sony PSN hack were arrested in Spain last week (prompting the attack on the police site); Turkey just rounded up 32 or so suspected members of Anonymous. The ringleaders of LulzSec have probably already slipped up enough to leave a trail for the feds to find.

But for every would-be "hacktivist" that gets caught, three more will leap in to fill his or her place. There's no stuffing this genie back into the bottle, so you better get used to it. Your best hope of survival: batten down the hatches, keep your head low, and hope they pick on somebody else instead of you.

What's your hacking survival strategy? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "Dial 'h' for 'hacker': LulzSec is the future of the Net," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Track the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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