Anonymous, a group of self-styled hacker-activists behind attacks on corporate and government websites, vowed to support the Occupy Wall Street protests by erasing the New York Stock Exchange “from the Internet” on Oct. 10.
The group posted a video message on YouTube declaring war on the world’s largest stock exchange in retaliation for the mass arrests of Wall Street protesters, and posted a link to the video on one of several Anonymous Twitter feeds.
The two-minute message didn’t elaborate on the threat or whether it referred only to an attack on the NYSE website, which would have no effect on trading.
Anonymous has launched several so-called directed denial of service attacks on websites over several months, including actions in December against the sites of MasterCard Inc. (MA) and Visa Inc. (V) Members of the group use specialized software to launch the attacks, which can slow or crash the site for a short period of time, according to court documents.
NYSE.com includes corporate information, press releases, trading notices, the company’s rules and bylaws, and access to services for companies whose stock is listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The trading systems are run separately through a secure data center in Mahwah, New Jersey.
Homeland Security Memo
Last month, the Department of Homeland Security circulated a memo warning of cyber attacks by Anonymous, as well as the group’s involvement in the Occupy Wall Street protests.
Anonymous had deployed new tools to help members attack websites, the memo said, listing two pieces of software called #RefRef and Apache Killer.
The memo also said that the group was trying to recruit employees of Wall Street companies and warned of possible blackmail attempts against other insiders to gain their cooperation.
“Anonymous has recently used Twitter to attempt to solicit ideologically dissatisfied, sympathetic employees from within institutions in the financial sector,” DHS said in the memo said. “To date these attempts appear unsuccessful,” the department said.
The threat been disputed by some members of Anonymous, who said on Twitter that it hadn’t been sanctioned. A similar dispute occurred over an announcement in July that Anonymous would attack Facebook on Nov. 5, 2011.
A posting on Anonnews.org said it was almost impossible to verify the operation because of the nature of Anonymous as an organization “free of hierarchical structure.”
The potential attack on NYSE “may or may not be a false flag operation initiated by authorities in order to discredit Anonymous and Occupy Wall Street,” the post said.
Stocks listed on the New York Stock Exchange trade on almost all U.S. exchanges and other systems where investors can buy and sell securities, including electronic communications networks, broker-dealers and dark pools, or private venues that match orders without displaying prices in advance.