Cyber War II - The Lone Wolf

The cyberattacks in Assange's defense appear to have been coordinated by Anonymous, a loosely affiliated group of activist computer hackers who have singled out other groups before, including the Church of Scientology and Gene Simmons of the rock band Kiss, who spoke out against file sharing. Last weekend, members of Anonymous vowed in two online manifestoes to take revenge on any organization that lined up against WikiLeaks in an effort called "Operation Payback."

Anonymous has an enemy in the hacking community, however: a self-proclaimed "hacktivist for good" who calls himself The Jester. He has claimed responsibility for taking down WikiLeaks' website several times since it started posting confidential State Department cables Nov. 28. The Jester, who describes himself as a patriotic hacker with a military background, claims other like-minded hackers have approached him to help.

Anonymous brings hackers into secure chat rooms at encrypted websites where potential targets are identified and hackers are encouraged to attack. On Wednesday, one of the Anonymous chat rooms, anonops.net, was under "massive" attack" probably by this guy, the Jester.

The Jester came to the attention of cyber security experts this year when he disabled several websites run by Islamic extremists. He told computer forensics expert Richard Stiennon in an e-mail in January that he had served in a "rather famous unit" in Afghanistan.

The Jester uses a disruption method that cyber experts had not seen before. The Jester wrote a program called XerXeS that clogs up a website like WikiLeaks.org, instructing it to launch continual requests for information, so the website is too busy to load.

The Anonymous group, like most hackers, shuts down websites by launching what are known as distributed denial of service attacks. Usually, these attacks are launched from a network of thousands of unsuspecting computers connected to the Internet.

What's more, Anonymous' computing base is located on "bulletproof" hosts in Russia. Bulletproof hosts are supposed to be immune from denial of service attacks. "That means whoever is attacking them has a very serious amount of bandwidth available to them.