Denial mobs & the Cyberwar on Estonia

Ross Mayfield of Socialtext writes more explicitly about the same possible social-technical phenomena I hinted at in my recent piece on Cyber-attack against Estonia:

The latest thread of the Cyberwar attack against Estonia, as covered in the NY Times, an interview in Cnet with an expert from Arbor Networks and a post Kim Cameron raise an interesting question.  It is unlikely that the Russian government can be directly linked to the massive coordinated and sophisticated denial of service attack on Estonia. It is also possible that such attack could self-organize with the right conditions.  Is a large part of our future dealing with hacktavists as denial mobs?

Given the right conditions that make a central resource a target, a decentralized attack could be decentralized in its coordination as well.  Estonia may be the first nation state to be attacked at the scale of war, but it isn't just nations at threat.  The largest bank in Estonia, in one of the top markets for e-banking, has losses in excess of $1M.  Small amount relatively, but the overall economic cost is far from known.

If a multinational corporation did something to spark widespread outrage, such an attack could emerge against it as a net-dependent institution.  Then we would be asking ourselves if the attack was economic warfare from a nation or terrorist organization.  But it also could be a lesser, and illegal, form of grassroots activism.  None of this is particularly new, but less in concept.

But what is new are tools, that cut both ways, for easy group forming and conversation. 

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Kim Cameron

Work on identity.