A coalition of hacker activists known as “Anonymous” — styling itself a “hacktivist” collective that fights for Internet freedom — took credit for bringing down websites belonging to the Department of Justice (DOJ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the U.S. Copyright Office, and multiple heavy-hitting industry association sites. Most of the websites were back online by Friday morning.
The attack followed a major international piracy crackdown against the file-sharing firm Megaupload.com. American officials shut down the site — among the most trafficked in the world — and helped arrest at least four people in New Zealand accused of operating what the U.S. government called "an international organized criminal enterprise." MegaUpload executives, none of whom are U.S. citizens, rejected the charges but remain in custody.
Internet activists and hackers, meanwhile, immediately sprang into action following news of the arrests. Anonymous used what is known as a "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attack to target the U.S. government — including the White House — as well as top lobbying groups for Hollywood and the music industry. The well-known technique essentially floods a website with online traffic and eventually overloads its servers, causing it to temporarily shut down.
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