Hackers aid to Turkey

Entering the second week of unrest in Turkey, hackers have decided to put their finger in the pie too. Following unconfirmed reports that the Government in Turkey has blocked access to Facebook and Twitter amid the unrest over a development demolition has urged some hackers to retaliate.

To add further the insult to injury, last Wednesday 24 bloggers were tracked down by Turkish Police officers accused of “instigat(ing) public hatred and animosity.” Opposing this move, various people are offering VPN access to Turkish users in order to access social networks and be able to report to the outside world what is going on in Turkey. Virtual Private Network (VPN) access is being provided with leaked (hacked) username and passwords. Similarly, various international dialups have been set by third parties in order to provide free access to the world. Also webchat is being hosted on various IRC networks in order for the users to be able to voice their witness.

As events continue to worsen, a group of known computer hackers known as Anonymous carried out a cyber-attack last Monday on many Turkish government websites in response to the violent police force. As normally happens in such attacks, the hackers used Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on the targets in order to bring the sites down. All this is reported and lively updated through twitter using the #OpTurkey tag.

The hacktivist association Anonymous has vouched to bring down the Turkish government “to it’s knees”. They promised to attack every internet and communications asset of the Turkish government. In a statement issued to the Government of Turkey, Anonymous said that this attack is response of the futile attempt to suppress the knowledge of the government crimes against the people. “Now Anonymous will shut you down, and your own people will remove you from power.”

The question I would like to bring to discussion is this: Is hacking activity allowed in such situations? No one appreciates that his computer gets some nasty virus, but this is merely script kiddies. Most virii or spyware which affects computer usage won’t be targeted attacks, in contrast to such attacks like the promise discussed above. Many claim that cyber warfare is going to be one of the emerging armaments in the military camp.

Veteran Army officers are used to having the upper hand in technology and manpower in any battle they fight. However, in the cyberspace world this is not the case. Former Army Major General David Festabend agrees to this claim. A month ago, the US government confirmed that it is being “raided by hackers working for the Chinese military”. Cyberwarfare is different to normal warfare. In the latter, the defender is in a better situation, however in cyber-warfare, the attack has the upper hand.

Anonymous seems to be acting in a Robin Hood mode breaking the law in the hope to help others. Can hacking be ever ethically correct? Is this the a new concept of “Just War”?

Matthew is a Masters graduate in Informatics and is currently reading a Bachelor’s Degree in Sacred Theology. He has a strong interest in merging the tech field, particularly Artificial Intelligence and Social Media, with theology. He is also in his sixth year of formation at the Archbishop’s Seminary.

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