Hacktivists Deface Westboro Baptist Church Website

Friday, February 25, 2011

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Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) websites sustained a double whammy this week, sustaining downtime from one hacktivist's attack followed by defacement from another.

Supporters of the Anonymous movement defaced a WBC website during the course of a live radio interview (video), posting a lengthy statement accompanied by a logo commonly used by the movement.

The message includes the following, as reported by The Register UK:

"'Take this defacement as a simple warning: go away,' the statement (screenshot here) concludes. 'The world (including Anonymous) disagrees with your hateful messages, but you have the right to voice them. This does not mean you can jump onto Anonymous for attention.'"

Rumors had circulated that Anonymous may target the WBC after the posting of a press release purported to be from an Anonymous supporter, but the rumors were dispelled as a hoax in subsequent messaging.

The Anonymous defacement comes just days after anti-jihadi hacker The Jester (th3j35t3r) apparently used the XerXeS DoS tool (video) to temporarily down one of the WBC's several websites.

A Twitter message posted by The Jester on Monday read: "www.godhatesfags.com – TANGO DOWN. Temporarily. For celebrating the death of US troops – honeypot fail btw", and is assumed to be a sign the hacktivist is taking credit for the attacks on the WBC.

Westboro Baptist Church has made a name for itself by staging vocal protests at the funerals of U.S. military members killed in action, though the message delivered at the protests are largely anti-homosexual in nature.

The Jester is known mostly for his repeated denial of service attacks on militant Jihadi websites, as well as his attack on the WikiLeaks website in late November that forced the organization to shuffle Internet hosting providers.

Anonymous is known for having targeted the websites of PayPal, Visa, MasterCard, PostFinance Bank, Amazon, Bank of America and others in December in retaliation for the severing of business ties and services with the WikiLeaks organization.

Most recently, the non-group made headlines by breaching the systems of HBGary Federal, a security company who was involved in efforts to reveal the identities of the Anonymous leadership.

Anonymous members and The Jester have publicly traded jabs for several months, each threatening to undermine and expose the other's operations. Anonymous supports the release of classified government documents by WikiLeaks, while The Jester stands opposed.

That both The Jester and Anonymous attacked Westboro Baptist Church websites this week represents a very strange convergence, and the prospect that two highly active hacktivist camps might find more common ground is tantalizing to say the least.

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