Wednesday, 26 October 2011


It is clear that the Anonymous Movement incites both positive and negative reactions, but I just discovered something they are doing that is absolutely wonderful. Anonymous have turned their gaze on internet providers of child pornography and they are taking action.
In a move that we can all get behind, hacker group Anonymous has announced that they have taken down a huge cache of child pornography and released 1,589 usernames of the website’s patrons. The action came as part of Operation Darknet, which targets illicit websites that are part of an unindexed and therefore unsearchable corner of the Internet.
The server in question is owned by Freedom Hosting, and apparently services over 40 child pornography websites. The largest of these, disturbingly called Lolita City, was said to contain over 100 gb of child pornography.
Interestingly, the Anonymous hack is extremely well documented. In two separate Pastebin posts, the hackers involved provide a timeline of events, as well as some of the methodologies they used in tracking and taking down the servers.
According to their timeline, the hackers first became aware of Lolita City while leading a related campaign against a portion of the Hidden Wiki which included links to child pornography. While working to suppress the Hidden Wiki for linking to child pornography, the group turned their attentions to the websites linked on the Wiki. Through their investigations, they discovered that many of the sites shared a similar “fingerprint” in that they were supported and hosted by a company called Freedom Hosting.
The takedown is part of Anonymous’ Operation Darknet, an anti-child-pornography effort aimed at thwarting child pornographers operating on the Tor network. Anonymous’ attack was focused on a hosting service called Freedom Hosting, which the group claims was the largest host of child pornography on Tor’s anonymized network. “By taking down Freedom Hosting, we are eliminating 40+ child pornography websites,” Anonymous claimed in its statement. “Among these is Lolita City, one of the largest child pornography websites to date, containing more than 100GB of child pornography.”
Based on a secure networking technology originally developed by the US Navy, Tor routes traffic through a collection of volunteer servers scattered across the Internet, making monitoring of what is being viewed or where communications are coming from difficult. The Tor network also hosts a private “dark” top-level domain, .onion (which is not an official TLD), via its Hidden Service Protocol; these sites are visible only to Tor users or those using a Tor gateway such as
Because of its anonymity, Tor is widely used by individuals and groups seeking to communicate without being surveilled by authorities, employers, or eavesdroppers watching packets on public WiFi networks, as well as those wishing to visit websites anonymously without having their IP address recorded. 
According to the Tor Project’s own metrics, the service has recently been averaging over 400,000 users per day. 
The Tor network was heavily used in Egypt earlier this year by dissidents to get around the Mubarak regime’s Internet shut-down, and is used by bloggers in Syria to communicate with the outside world. The network is also used by some who want to publish other sorts of material and conceal themselves from prying eyes, including pirated movie and software torrent publishers (which has made some Tor server providers the target of DMCA takedown notices). It's also attracted child pornographers and the pedophiles who are their customers.  
Anonymous then issued an ultimatum to Freedom Hosting to remove the content, or be shut down through their attacks. Freedom Hosting refused, and has since been the target of the hackers’ ire.
While attacks by the hacker group have often been divisive, going after the supporters of child pornography is something that is hard to criticize. 
This is a great application of the group’s talents; an intersection of Internet knowledge and the ability to carry out electronic attacks. Of course, preventing child pornography from being moved around the Internet doesn’t stop the predators that created the materials. Hopefully, law enforcement will take up the information gleaned by the group and start making some arrests.
Anonymous said it released the information about users of that website, including usernames, how long they have been active on the site and how many images they have shared. According to the crime-related blog DreaminDemon, the group also claims to have learned the identities of some of the people on the list and have invited the FBI to contact them if they wanted the details.
40 websites reported down at this's hoping more to come.

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