A lawyer representing an alleged member of the notorious, nebulous, international Internet hacktivist collective known as Anonymous will argue that a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is not a crime, but a form of legal protest, a digital sit-in, and protected speech.
Jay Leiderman, a lawyer representing alleged Anonymous hacktivist Commander X, aka Christopher Doyon, argues that today’s DDoS attacks are the cyber equivalent of yesterday’s sit-in at the lunch counter at Woolworth’s during the civil rights movement.
Wednesday, Leiderman, speaking to TPM
There’s no such thing as a DDoS attack. A DDoS is a protest, it’s a digital sit-it. It is no different than physically occupying a space. It’s not a crime, it’s speech.Nothing was malicious, there was no malware, no Trojans. This was merely a digital sit-in. It is no different from occupying the Woolworth’s lunch counter in the civil rights era.
A Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack is an orchestrated attempt to make a computer resource unavailable to its intended users. Multiple users send repeated requests to a website, thus blocking the proverbial door way, lunch counter, etc.
It is important to distinguish between a voluntary DDoS attack, the type of attack Anonymous is known for, and the involuntary DDoS atack. The involuntary DDoS attack involves using “botnets” made up of slave computers infected with malware, all done without the knowledge or permission of the computer’s owner.
The voluntary type of DDoS attack is what Anonymous is known for. The voluntary DDoS attack involves a high volume of computer users all voluntarily participating, requesting information from the same targeted server in unison, and thus making the selected computer resource unavailable to intended users, just as a sit-in blocks access to a particular site or resource.
There are several similar, Anonymous related cases headed for court across the country. Whether or not a judge and jury will accept the sit-in defense remains to be seen. Yet one thing seems certain, charging those who in good conscience participated in such a relatively harmless cyber protest like a voluntary DDoS attack should not be subject to felony charges.