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First Virtual War 83

EnglishTim writes "According to this BBC report, the Indonesian government orchestrated a massive 'virtual attack' on the East Timorese server, which is based in Ireland due to the Indonesian refusal to recognise East Timor's sovereignty. "
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First Virtual War

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    Guy had to turn his computers off, even.
  • If you take out a site or a server and replace it with your own for the purposes of "propaganda" It becomes a political expression of sorts does it not? What if Earth First hacked the exxon site, or The democrats hacked the republicans. What about retaliation to such an attack? Is it different if the source is a government, some other organization, or an individual. These are some big questions, but I guess it boils down to "Is there a legitimate role for hacking?"
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Really, was this attack any worse than what you could provoke from IRC by insulting a prepubescent dweebie with a copy of smurf fresh off of rootshell?

    Take down a national power grid, then I'd be willing to call it a "war."
  • You seem to be naive to how an organized repressive force can manipulate a peaceful but unexperienced crowd of protesters and turn it into a violent manifestation.

    Tactics: infiltrate a few paid agents to agrede the authorities, and have the cops "defend" themselves: this is, bring in riot division gorillas to beat up the whole crow. You can bring helicopters with sharpshooters and aim at the protesters while you're at it. Drives them nuts. Film the thing and edit it to your convenience.

    I don't know about the Canadian protests that are being talked about here, but claiming a group of protesters to be "violent punks" requires documentation.

    (P.S.: the above description comes from real life events personal friends of mine have witnessed.)


  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by Mephie:

  • by gavinhall ( 33 )
    Posted by Mephie:

    It wasn't Indonesia, it was Beavis...
    "I am Cornholio!! I for my bungholio!"

  • Posted by cepolloc:

    After living in Indonesia for 5 years, i could tell you that there is no way the indonesians were smart enough to pull off any real hacking. besides, half the internet servers have already gone under there. ngentotloh!
  • Posted by thex:

    The assertion that it *couldn't* be the Indonesians because it seems more like American kids confuses me. Plausible deniability and MTV did, after all, enter the lexicon about the same time.

    I am MOST surprised, however, that people seem to want to believe that it couldn't have been a nation-state sponsored affair. A 6 month campaign of gathering information, a coordinated attack from sites around the world, all for a 'joke'? Sounds like some VERY motivated pranksters, with lots of time and money on their hands...

    And if it *didn't* take the resources of a state to support this, should we feel SAFER?
  • This BBC writer appears to have got the meaning of hackers and crackers correct this time. Neat. :-)

    (I don't think he made the headline graphic, where it's wrong...)
  • E. Timor is getting press *now*? 25 years after it happened?
  • I just heard on NPR that Indonesia wants to "give up" E. Timor, and quickly.
  • In a nutshell, East Timor used to be a country on the absolute East end of Indonesia. In 1974, Indonesia attacked them without provocation and starved out about 1.5 million people. All with the blessing and support of the Western powers.

    IIRC, a few Australian journalists trying to cover the atrocities were massacred by the Indonesian forces along with the rest.

    The most significant thing about the incident is that it went nearly completely unreported in the Western press.

    Go rent the documentary "Manufacturing Consent", it'll give you a complete rundown.
  • I thought one of the big problems with Timorese independence (in the eyes of the government) was that it set a bad example for the hundreds of *other* non-Bhasa-Indonesia speaking ethnic groups in the area that the Indonesian government doesn't want getting any ideas.

    I wouldn't think they'd want E. Timor to go free unless they were *really* desperate.
  • Know all your facts and then speak or shut the fuck up...

    Our entire country is a colony. Just because tyhe original inhabitants are dead and can't complain doesn't excuse it.

    And we got our puny asses run out by the Vietnamese, of all people (and Chinese, in the Korean war)

    Shouldn't you be in school?
  • by Trashman ( 3003 )
    I wonder how they did it.

    A couple of weeks ago I was reading a thread on /. and somone put the picture in my head of legions of Quake players running around their servers blowing stuff up.

    I think if countries went to war like this then the world could be a better place....
  • >>Your vision of a better place reminds me of one of the original series episodes where Kirk comes across two planets
    >>having a "war" through computers. Random casualties from virtual bombings would then report to their own
    >>government to die neatly.

    Okay, it would be better except for that part where people report to really die....
  • There's also that crappy movie "Robot Jox", where any border disputes or whatever were resolved by having two guys in giant robots beat the hell out of each other.
  • Saw the updated Channel Four documentary on the Indonesian occuaption of East Timor last night.

    It was appalling to see how the British, American and Australian governments ignored the genocide in East Timor to ensure lucrative trade contracts. I was even more appalled by Kissinger's manipulation of the UN - the US actively blocked UN condemnation of Indonesia so that Kissinger could save face.

    Worst of all was the reugnant Indonesian ambassador just sitting there like an oily c*nt, denying the indisputable evidence of Indonesian atrocities.

    Hopefully the Indonesian economy will go completely belly up, but it will probably only hurt the ordinary Indonesians - not the b*stards at the top.
  • Britain supplied (amongst a vast arsenal of stuff) a number of Hawk 'trainers'. These jets are high performance, and against people with small arms (the East Timor rebels) or civilians, make great close support aircraft. They are even sold on the understanding that they can rapidly be converted into fighter bombers.

    This prompted a big scandal in the UK. When asked recently whether this use of British hardware worried him, former minister Alan Clark replied that it didn't. Asked if this was a little contradictory from an avowed vegetarian, he again replied in the negative.

  • Kissinger, during his face saving exercise, insisted that US arm supplies to Indonesia should be cut shortly after the East Timor occuaption.

    When it became clear that UN condemnation of Indonesian aggression had been forestalled by US delegates, the arms supplies DOUBLED.

    Recently released US government documents (including transcripts of Kissinger's briefings), corroborate this. In fact the US connived to the extent that they informed the Indonesians not to invade East Timor until *after* the US Presidential visit to Indonesia. It began shortly after the President's aircraft left Jakarta airport.

  • What are all these comments about sufficiently able *acker types being able to do things like shut down power grids, defensive systems, toasters, anything with a processor, etc?

    If a device is not on a network (computer, phone, whatever), it cannot be damaged or compromised in any way unless you physically go there (or send a missile or whatever ..). (Satellites may be slightly more vulnerable, since by their nature control of them is remote.)

    Since any important system is not on any network that can be accessed remotely, the worst that can come of 'cyberterrorism' or whatever is a few media stunts like this.

    (Ack. I dislike the prefix 'cyber' ... is there a replacement? Doesn't it just exist because someone stole it from 'cybernetic' and didn't want to give it back its original meaning?)

  • They were not attacking the real-life East Timor; they already have that by the short hairs. They were attacking a "virtual country" domain which had been set up to treat East Timor as an independent country.
  • Well, after all, the Internet was born out of preparations for war as a sort of defensive weapon. No way someone wasn't going to see it as an offensive one sooner or later. Surprised it wasn't sooner.
  • And if reading Chomsky's too much for you, go and rent "Manufacturing Consent".
  • I have my doubts that the Indonesian government watches Beavis and Butthead. Please.
  • Would be hacktivists might want to volunteer for sites like East Timor's to patch up their holes.
  • Sure, everyone knows where Kuwait's that little sticky-out part on the bottom of Iraq....don't you watch the CNN graphics? :]
    Now, ask people where IRAQ is, and we'll see...

  • Ironically, given this so-called Cyber War (read:load of hysterical media crap)launched yesterday, Indonesian government sources are today indicating that they may simply give up on East Timor, possibly giving it complete independence.

    My analysis: With the society teetering on the verge of complete economic collapse, and the government's legitimacy called into question by student massacres and show trials, and fundamentalist/nationalist tendencies on the rise, a fractious colony like E. Timor might just be too much of a headache.

    This so-called "Cyber War" was obviously the work of a bunch of kids, not Indonesian security services.

    A real electronic war would involve, say, disconnecting a country's central bank from the financial network, or disabling the power grid, not crashing some stupid Web server in Ireland.
  • I have no idea where you got this from. It is true that there was a lot of violence against the aborigines until recently. However, this kind of thing has discontinued for some time.

    You are rambling.


    -- Elflord

  • Also worth checking out "Death of a Nation". This is the movie that John Pilger made there when he risked his life by going in under cover (journalists aren't allowed to enter east Timor)


    -- Elflord

  • I am not responsible for what happened in my country >50 years ago ...
    -- Elflord
  • If it had been Sengan posting this article, everybody would have been screaming blue murder about him skewing the politics of /.

    I feel a double-standard is in place.

  • Man, I just read through the Programme 3 []

    That looks like a real cool/interesting show. A pity we don't have it in Norway. (Or do we?)

    Thanks for the link, I'll read the rest later..
  • Hrmm...
    I'm trying to figure out why those guys didn't attack some of their Defensive systems or something.. Then it would be a real WAR.

    I'd like to see the log of it too.
  • Based upon my experience of hacking, hackers and my knowledge of information warfare, I have to say that I doubt very much that this attack was carried out by the Indonesian Government.

    From the information available on the BBC site, it seems a lot more likely that the "attack" was by a group (or possibly just one) juvenile hackers, probably American, who thought the idea of having a Beavis'n'Butthead-style domain ( would be cool.

    Sounds to me like there's a bit of spin-doctoring going on.

    The Dodger
  • As the inventor of ethical hacking, (a term which has since been hijacked by IBM and others) I believe that although ethical hacking is illegal, it is generally not immoral. Earth First hacking the Exxon site would be an ethical hack assuming that they only altered the main website (ethical hacking doesn't involve destroying data - that would be monkeywrenching).

    Republican vs. Democrat isn't, because the aim of the hack is selfish, as opposed to unselfish. In other words, the intention isn't 'noble', to use a slightly anachronistic term.

    The Dodger
  • Okay, let's posit for one moment that the Indonesian Government were behind this. The first thing to ask is "What were they trying to do?"
    There are two possibilities:

    1. They were going to carry out some form of propaganda compaign involving misuse of the website.

    2. They intended to take down the site.

    If the first was true, then their first action would have been to alter the webpage. If the second was true, their first action would have been to rm the server.

    From the (admittedly limited) information I have, it would appear that the intruders did neither of these things. Instead, they went about establishing the domain. In fact, the only reason that the website is down is because Connect Ireland pulled the plug when they realised that the system's security had been breached.

    As for saying that this was the culmination of a "six month" campaign - what proof, if any, is there that all those attacks were carried about by the same individual or group? Did all these attacks come from the same IP address? If so, why didn't Connect Ireland take some form of action?

    I know hackers who use automated scripts to scan thousands of hosts for vulnerabilities. Now, I know what people are going to say - why should someone scan the .tp domain? Well, are you trying to tell me that Connect Ireland had an entire server dedicated to a single website? Or even several websites under the .tp domain? I doubt it very much - I'm willing to bet, in fact, that there are quite a few websites hosted on that machine.

    Now, admittedly, I could be wrong, and if facts are presented to me which contradict my assumptions, I will quite openly revise my analysis of this incident. But, from what I know, I continue to regard the assertion that the Indonesian Govt are behind this attack as unfounded and I think that Connect Ireland are being deliberately misleading.

    The Dodger
  • The BBC story has been updated with a bit about the Slashdot "News for Nerds" site. In response to the Beavis & Butthead theory, "Martin Maguire responded he could not see ordinary crackers expending their energy for nine months on testing defences and then mounting a worldwide co-ordinated campaign."

    If Maguire's reading this, I'd like him to tell us WHY he thinks it was the same crackers testing his security over the last nine months and why doesn he think it unusual that hackers might use machines on several different continents? The first rule of hacking is to cover your tracks, a chara. It's not unusual for hackers to use machines on the opposite side of the glode from where they're actually sat.

  • I was in fucking stitches watching that - the relaxation exercises and so on, and the fact that they got that contact....

    Monsieur Thomas is fucking good. Reminded me of the Need To Know guys -


    PS: Perhaps Chris can confirm that this "Indonesia carry out infowar on E.Timor" story was on brekafast television?
  • What you are describing is CRACKING, not hacking. /. of all places should at least get the terminology right!

    Linus Torvalds is a hacker.

    Meatnick was a cracker.

    Big difference.

    That having been said, it IS an interesting philosophical question as to whether or not there is a legitimate role for CRACKING, and if so, what exactly that role would be.
  • We have enough oil in presently-exploited oil
    fields to last well over a century at present
    rates of consumption. The main thing we're
    running out of is clean air -- if we burn all
    that, we'll return the atmosphere to the CO2
    levels of the Jurassic period, nice & warm.

    Check out Project Underground [] for more information.
  • What if they never reported anything about Iraq invading Kuwait? Would that be OK? Does the average American know where Kuwait is?

    The press deserves to be royally flamed for the non-reporting about the situation in Indonesia and East Timor. This stuff IS news-worthy. Read the Portuguese posters' report.

    However, criticizing Indonesia is against the interests of the powerful, and therefore the press remains mum.
  • and Tibet doesn't exist, because it's "part of China"....
  • Did anyone hear the report on Canadian radio about Pak Suharto's behavior in B.C. during the APEC meeting last spring? He or his bodyguards asked the Royal Canadian Mounties if his bodyguards could shoot protesters there!!! It is a good thing he's out, I hope things change. There are at least two other areas in which sovereignty is contested: Irian Jaya (the US is at fault) and Aceh, in Sumatra. Much of the Moluccas initially wanted independence from Java when the Dutch left- this history underlies some of the X-tiam - Muslim violence in Ambon, as well. Anyway, I would love to hear the technical details, I hope someone will provide them. (Aku cinta Rupiah!)
  • I am sorry, but they used AK-47's and not U.S. weapons, at least in the initial assault, to avoid offending American sensibilities. That's all it takes to please a politician. The U.S. is more directly responsible for handing over Irian Jaya to the Javanese in order to cover up special operations supporting anti-Sukarno rebels in Sumatera. In order to win the release of a CIA radio operator captured by the Indonesian military, the U.S., acting as a U.N. sponsored election judge in determining the fate of the Irian people decided against the popular vote for independence or union with Papua New Guinea and supported the decision of a "Council of Elders" that Irian should belong to Indonesia.
  • Maybe some of those nice cracker boys who are bombarding the Iraqi X.25 network could spare a few moments to bust up Indonesia? A non-government-sponsered "Go fsck yourself" type of an attack? Hmmm.....

    Just a thought.

  • One of the first rules of any covert operation is that it has to be deniable. The second rule is that it must be difficult to properly attribute.

    I don't know about the level of your knowledge of information warfare but your doubting that the Indonesian government was responsible is a proof of rule one.

    In real information warfare, this kind of operation would have been subcontracted. From the people I have spoken to about this, it seemed that it was a planned attack and was the culmination of some activity that had been going on for about six months or so.

    Did it ever occur to you that the people who carried out the op may also have watched Beavis and Butthead. After all MTV is a global satellite network.

  • Sounds like the Indonesian givernment sources are putting a very nice spin on the situation.

    With respect to your analysis, I don't really think that you understand what happened. In a situation like East Timor, getting the message out is extremely important. The more the Indonesian govt. was shown to be in the wrong, the more untenable their position becomes. It is classic information warfare. The same situation occurred here in Ireland with the Northern Ireland conflict - the Republicans were so effective in getting the ir message out that they were even banned from TV and radio in the UK and Ireland. With the WWW, the printing costs are removed making it far more feasible to put the viewpoint forward. It would have been in the best interest of the Indonesian govt. to reduce any such avenue of expression.

    Since East Timor does not have a financial network or any targettable infrastructure, hitting that server in Ireland, which also hosts the DNS for the entire .tp top level domain would effectively wipe the virtual country of East Timor off the internet.

  • i picked up noam chomsky's book on east timor, i think if you really want some more knowledge of the situation in east timor (though the manufacturing consent gives you the basic story)... its a small book that won't take you more than one sitting to read

God helps them that themselves. -- Benjamin Franklin, "Poor Richard's Almanac"