In a sort of cyber-censorship, those who disagree with a human rights group have an increasingly easy answer: Hack its website. Hackers are increasingly targeting such groups, researchers find, using DDoS attacks to inundate a website with data in order to shut it down—sometimes for weeks. Between August 2009 and September 2010, 140 such attacks targeted more than 280 sites, and it’s likely to get worse, the Harvard researchers tell the BBC.
Among the victims were a liberal Russian newspaper and sites that attackers deemed anti-WikiLeaks. In “volunteer DDos,” volunteers join in by installing attack software on their own computers. Smaller human rights groups face particular risk due to lack of resources; if attackers “annoy” the victims’ “ISP, they will kick them off and then they have to find another place to host," says one study author.