Nazi Hacks and Counter-Attacks: Cyberwar and the Fight for Human Rights
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Nazi Hacks and Counter-Attacks: Cyberwar and the Fight for Human Rights
by Jessica Black, Hanzō Hattori and Hans Meier
We all know that cyberwars aren’t new. We use the term cyber, or virtual, war, “to refer to politically motivated hacking to conduct sabotage and espionage.” All major and many minor countries, corporations and every intelligence agency worth its name are deeply involved and spending on new technologies to break code, bring down opposition websites, penetrate discussion groups, obtain confidential information and destabilize opponents must be the new growth area in IT.
However, corporate, military and intelligence agency sponsored cyberwars are not the only wars in cyberspace. There is, in fact, another darker cyberwar conducted in the shadows. Largely outside the purview of the mainstream media is the cyber war between Nazis and human rights activists.
On one side of the cyberwar for human rights briefly came to light in February of 2012 when reports were published about the exploits of a group based in Germany. The group went under the banner of Anonymous and released information obtained from Nazi websites, forums and online retail stores catering to the far right.
These “Nazi-leaks” provided hundreds of names and addresses and thousands of private emails and pictures of members and contacts of a wide range of Nazi organizations throughout Europe and North America. However, Nazi-leaks is not new but is, in fact, part of an on-going attempt to destabilize Nazi groups and sympathizers. As part of that goal, the German hackers establish the website, http://www.nazi-leaks.net as a redundant site and to provide human rights activists with an opportunity to support it by setting up mirrors.
On the other side, Nazis groups counter-attacked and temporarily brought down the nazi-leaks website. Those who set up mirror sites to support the release of information about Nazis were then targeted and their names were posted as “traitors.”
While the media did briefly noted that the nazi-leaks website was down, it was not explained that it was brought down as part of an on-going cyberwar over human rights on the Net. Reporters failed to put nazi-leaks and the Nazi counter attack in context. It was not reported that Nazi hackers have waged a long battle to bring down, deface and to penetrate human rights websites.
To provide context and to hopefully better understand the cyberwar between Nazis and human rights activists, the following briefly examines: (1) the importance of Operation Blitzkrieg and the use of web technologies and social media as tools for human rights, (2) some the mechanics of the Nazi attacks on human rights websites, and (3) the latest response in the cyber war between Nazis and anti-Nazis.
#OpBlitzkrieg: Anti-Nazi Counter Attacks
The online offensive by Anonymous, under the code name Operation Blitzkrieg, was launched in May 2011. In a communiqué, the Anonymous group explained their motive as follows: "Your [Nazi] incomprehensible actions, and your reluctance to accept the freedom and equality that every single human being possesses by right from birth, causes the birth to hatred and worldwide racism."
Nazi-leaks.info went online in December, 2011 as part of a new offensive, targeting neo-Nazi websites in Canada, USA, UK and Germany, and offering data and download links of leaked data. In a remarkable successful and well co-coordinated effort, neo-Nazi websites were defaced, some were temporarily forced off line, and hundreds of confidential files were released to the public, along with lists of members of the violent international Nazi group Blood and Honour.
Many of these files from online stores catering to Nazis, membership and contact information, forums, and confidential communications had been previously circulated among anti-Nazi groups, but now all the information was made available to the public in one huge data dump.
In addition to the previous leaks, however, Operation Blitzkrieg released new member and contact information from many neo-Nazi sites like Blood and Honour, the English Defense League, the KKK, Combat 18, the Canadian Nazi Party as well as information from far-right political parties, like the British National Party (BNP) and the German National Democratic Party (NPD) and even support groups for a candidate for the Republican nomination for President of the United States of America.
It has been argued by several experts that Operation Blitzkrieg leaks are critical in the war against the so-called neo-Nazi movement. While no one condones illegal activity, the act of publicizing names and releasing previously confidential e-mails, it was argued, would help to destabilize the Nazi movement worldwide.
Despite the boasting of members of Blood and Honour, websites and online Nazi stores will never again be seen as secure. The distrust of Nazi websites and forums and online stores will make recruitment and communication all that more difficult for hate mongers. Putting the names and addresses of contacts of Nazi groups into the public domain will not only deter future growth in membership but also allow much greater attention by police agencies and public scrutiny. For example, geographic profiling of member lists and incidents of attacks on minorities will assist police agencies in crime prevention and solve outstanding crimes.
Posting the names and addresses of members of Nazi groups was likened to warning families about child molesters and women about serial rapists in their neighbourhoods.
One of the factors that will certainly hurt the Nazi movement is that prospective members and others will have no confidence in remaining secret. In fact, all clandestine activities past and present are in danger of becoming public knowledge. It is also certainly true that the leaks are a major problem for the clandestine neo-Nazi groups that were previously trying to organize secretly, or at least out of the glare of public attention until they had organized sufficiently to mount large-scale operations.
Nazi Attacks: Technology and Strategy in the Cyberwar
Soon after launching the nazi-leaks.info website, Operation Blitzkrieg, became the victim of an on-going and wide-spread attack launched by Nazis world-wide. The site was ultimately brought down for a short time by a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack. In brief, a DDoS attack is one in which a multitude of compromised systems attack a single target, thereby causing denial of service for users of the targeted system. The flood of incoming messages to the target system forces it to shut down, thereby denying service users access to the system.
Wikipedia states that, “In the wild, it has been noted that applications experience, on average, 71 attempts an hour.” When under direct attack, some site applications came under aggressive attacks and at their peak, were attacked 800-1300 times per hour. Human rights websites can suffer a much higher frequency of attack since most cyber attacks are motivated not by greed but by politics and revenge.
An attack similar to a DDoS attack was launched in January 2012 against a news section of a popular human rights website in Czechoslovakia. The attack was encouraged on Blood and Honour and other websites and forums sympathetic to the Nazis. Nazis posted a mocking and degrogatary article and asked supporters to flood the human rights site. After the derogatory article was posted, the page was viewed almost 10,000 times, as compared to the average viewing rate of less than 1,000 hits. The website managers understood that the website was vulnerable and undertook improvements, but at the cost of time and very scarce resources.
But there are many victims in a DDoS attack – of course, the target website is the primary victim -- but all the computers that have been compromised by the attacker or attackers are also part of the chain.
Notwithstanding improvements to human rights websites, Nazi attacks are occurring more and more frequently and are a sign of the growing Nazi presence on the Net as well as their growing technical knowledge.
A second type of attack often used in the human rights cyberwars is based on injecting code into online forms. This is commonly known as an SQL injection attack. This approach, which is used to attack the security of a website by inputting statements in a web form to get a website to perform operations on existing databases, is usually designed to dump the entire website database(s) content to the attacker’s computer, in this case the Nazis.
Most interactive sites are attacked in this manner, but depending on the strength of their coding, not all websites are susceptible to injection attacks.
In addition, relatively sophisticated malware have been circulated on the Net, hoping to penetrate and compromise computers to spread hate and gather information. As Wikipedia states, malware, or malicious software, is:
“...software (or script or code) designed to disrupt computer operation, gather sensitive information, or gain unauthorized access to computer systems. It is a general term used to describe any kind of software or code specifically designed to exploit a computer, or the data it contains, without consent. The expression is a general term used by computer professionals to mean a variety of forms of hostile, intrusive, or annoying software. Malware includes computer viruses, worms, trojan horses, spyware, dishonest adware, most rootkits, and other malicious programs.”
There is no estimate of separate malware attacks conducted by neo-Nazis. There is….
In Germany neo-Nazi spam mail is still prevalent despite the technological sophistication of some neo-nazi groups. In these attacks, neo-Nazis send hate mail to huge lists of people. The mail, as anyone familiar with the Nazi movement could guess, is designed to deny the Holocaust, spread anti-Semitism, anti-Islam and generally spread malicious messages.
In a recent attack, for example, Nazis sent spam that attempted to blame nazi-leaks for sending their racist and hateful messages. This is reminiscent of the earlier Sober.Q attacks that occurred in 2005 when neo-Nazis used a mail worm to spread hate messages. The more recent spam e-mails, falsely reported as emanating from nazi-leaks, were automatically generated from Nazi sites. There is also a link to porn on one site.
In January 2012 another neo-Nazi mail attack was launched in Germany. It also denied the holocaust, spread hate against Jews as well as Polish and Czech people and described the turnout of the Germans from Poland and Czechoslovakia as the “real holocaust.” It was also mass-mailed.
Christin Löchner, a young Left Party politician, answered the January attack with a polemical e-mail explaining that she would celebrate the 8th of May as kick a Nazis’ ass. She also congratulated Poland for the new territory gained after 1945. The result was a roar on the right: neo-Nazi websites published her e-mail and address and called for action against her. She received threats by e-mail, by telephone and by letter of violence, rape and murder and also a threat to visit her and “empty a Kalashnikov.”
These threats were also published on the neo-Nazi site, antifa-leaks. The antifa site was built in revenge for nazi-leaks. The intention is to publish addresses of “enemies”; that is, antifascist and human right activists addresses.
Another major theatre of the human rights cyberwars is in the realm of social media. Nazis attempt to control social media through over-whelming comments sections on social media and routinely post genocidal, de-humanizing, racist, sexist and homophobic videos or articles about minority groups, gays and as well as women. Nazis flood message boards, Facebook (FB) walls and YouTube (YT) accounts with hate and harassment. The following is a mild version of some of the messages received:
“[name of the YT account] has made a comment on Ernst Zundel: Hate Group Recruitment 101 (Part 1):
“@xeron123456 revisionism is pseudo intellectual? ROFL. You rat-faced f**king kikes resort to terrorism and jailing your opponents because you have no leg to stand on in the debate on your fraudulent HOLOHOAX!
Anyone who resorts to lobbying governments to install laws to protect your racket is de facto a proven liar who has something to hide.
Ernst Zundel is a world HERO for truth and justice!”
The following comment is a little more sophisticated, complaining that Boer’s are the new minority and under threat:
“Where I live is now minority White. It is dangerous for Whites to walk the streets now as there is so much HATRED against us. Blacks and Browns are loving jumping on the GeNOcide of White Folk bandwagon. We should never have let our gaurd [sic] down. As shown by the Anti-Whites comment, they want us dead and gone. Anti-racist is a code-Word for anti-White.”
Nazi’s also flood FB and YT with complaints about anti-Nazi and human rights channels, arguing that they have violated the terms of service, or TOS, contracts users must sign with service providers to gain access to services. Violation of the TOS contracts can result in users having their accounts suspended or removed. Unfortunately, Nazis defeat TOS contracts by cloning accounts to overwhelm service providers. Despite laws against racism, advocating genocide, threats and harassment, the main recourse are the TOSS agreements that users sign with service providers.
Sometimes Nazis work individually to bring down anti-Nazi accounts, but they are more likely now to organize in groups to attempt to bring down or have accounts suspended. When anti-Nazis protest racism online and flag content, Nazis retaliate with harassments and death threats. In Vancouver, Canada for example, a 63 year old recently complained about racism on Craig’s List discussion groups. Craig’s List is used to sell, rent and rant. When the senior was harassed, he complained to the police and to Craig’s List itself. Craig’s List took down the personal threats, but left the racist content.
The B.C. Hate Crime Unit announced they were investigating the death threats and racist content. But the Unit warned that investigations are difficult, complex and take time. 
The attack by racists on Craig’s List is not unique and occurs on many social media forums. However, the State of New York is advancing legislation to criminalize harassment on the Net. This is a welcome development that will render help to the defense of human rights on the Net. Unfortunately no such legislation is available in Canada, despite the expressed interest in online crime prevention by the federal government.
Because of the failure of government to offer protection against the prevalence of racism, misogyny, homophobia on all social media platforms and the increasing use of social media to organize Nazi youth, concerned people began to pool resources and also formed online anti-Nazi groups to carefully monitor channels for violations of YT’s terms of service. Members of groups notified each other of vicious content and also pool resources to use service providers’ TOS to force Nazis off the Net.
To help anti-Nazis monitor content on social media, www.stopracism.ca created an online flagging list to allow readers to make complaints directly to service providers and to track those complaints to see how YT or FB was monitoring complaints about content. The ‘flag list” tracked each alleged offender with YT and FB and provided information about making TOS complaints using social media. Anti-Nazis also formed groups on Facebook to track complaints and to advise members of violations of TOS contracts by Nazis as did Nazis. Despite it’s popularity and utility, the flag list was recently suspended due to monetary difficulties with the host website. It is well known that YT and FB closely monitor copyright infringement. The question, however, is the extent to which social media giants monitor online harassments, threats and outright calls for genocide. The answer was not well! It can take many complaints before offensive content is taken down and users suspended and accounts disabled, if at all. Nevertheless, anti-Nazis have kept up the offensive with volunteer help.
Nazis may also use automated attacks to control discussion boards and comment sections on social media as well as traditional print media. A military defense contractor in the United States developed a program to create and manage multiple identities (known as sock puppets) for deployment on social media. Sock puppets allow one agent to appear as many separate individuals to distort polling votes and even discussions.
Of course, the attempt to mold public opinion by creating false identities is not new. Many political parties, more generally on the right, assign workers paid by political parties or even paid by government to call into radio talk shows and to write letters on behalf of their candidate or elected official. Sock puppets are more efficient, however, since one person can control dozens if not hundreds of separate accounts to sway public opinion using social media.
Legal Protections Against Hate in Canada
Sections 318 of the Canadian Criminal Code states that anyone who advocates or promotes genocide is guilty of an indictable offense, where genocide refers to the intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group. Section 319 (1) of the Code states that anyone who "by communicating statements in any public place, incites hatred against any identifiable group where such incitement is likely to lead to a breach of the peace is guilty of an offense. Section 319 (2) also makes it an offense under the Criminal Code to wilfully promote hatred against an identifiable group other than in private conversation. The Code also allows the seizure of hate propaganda, which is kept in premises for distribution or sale. The maximum sentence for advocating genocide is five years imprisonment. A person charged with inciting hatred or wilfully promoting hatred is liable to two years imprisonment if prosecuted by way of indictment or to six months and/or a $2,000 fine if by summary conviction.
There are four statutory defence against the charge of wilfully promoting hatred: 1) the statements communicated were true, 2) the statements expressed in good faith an opinion upon a religious subject, 3) that the statements were made on a subject of public interest which, on reasonable grounds, are believed to be true, and 4) pointing out in good faith, for purpose of removal, matters tending to produce feelings of hatred. In addition, the consent of a provincial Attorney General is required to initiate prosecution under the Code for advocating genocide or promoting hatred.
These defenses provided in law are, in effect, gaping holes that deter prosecutions of hate mongers in Canada. There is also the fear that bringing charges under the Criminal Code for the promotion of hatred and genocide will give hate mongers free publicity, particularly if the charges fail. As a senior Crown Council stated, there is fear that "an acquittal may well be seen as a vindication of the offender's views." These fears have virtually stopped charges against obvious hate mongers under federal hate crime laws for online and print hate.
Supreme Court Judges have also spoken against the use of the Criminal Code to prevent racism and advocating genocide. In the case of James Keegstra who was found to have breached Section 319 (2), for example, Madame Justice Beverly McLachlin of the Supreme Court of Canada wrote in a minority decision that Section 319 was not a reasonable limit on freedom of expression and that human rights legislation was a more appropriate remedy than criminal law. Madame Justice Beverly MacGloughlin is now Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada.
The most commonly used deterrent against online hate in Canada has become section 13(1) of the Canaidna Human Rights Act. Section 13 (1) prohibits the transmission by telecommunication of repeated messages of any matter that is likely to expose a person to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination. It also prohibits the publication or display of notices or other representations that express or incite discrimination under the Act. Section 13 states that:
"It is a discriminatory practice for a person or a group of persons acting in concert to communicate telephonically or to cause to be so communicated, repeatedly, in whole or in part by means of the facilities of a telecommunication undertaking within the legislative authority of Parliament, any matter that is likely to expose a person or persons to hatred or contempt by reason of the fact that person or those persons are identifiable on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination."
Examples of the Use of Section 13(1)
In 1979, a Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that John Ross Taylor and the Western Guard Party had contravened Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act by transmitting repeatedly hate messages against Jews. The Tribunal ordered Taylor and the Western Guard to stop, but Taylor ignored the order. He was subsequently found to be in contempt of court and was sentenced to one year in prison and ordered to pay a $5000 fine. In 1983 the Canadian Human Rights Commission filed a new contempt of court order, alleging that Taylor was still communicating hate messages on his telephone. The court found that Taylor was again in contempt. Taylor appealed, arguing that Section 13 of the Canadian Human Rights Act under which he was charged violated his right to freedom of expression as guaranteed by the Charter. The majority of the Supreme Court ruled that while Section 13 violated the guarantee of freedom of expression under Section 2 of the Charter the violation was justified under Section 1.
In British Columbia, Tony McAleer and the Canadian Liberty Net (CLN) was twice found to have communicated messages by telephone that breached the Canadian Human Rights Act. The CLN was established in October 1991 as a computerized telephone message system that offered callers a menu of hate messages, including messages from Wolfgang Droege (The Heritage Front, Toronto Ontario), Ernst Zundel, (Samizdat Publishers, Toronto, Ontario) Janice Long,(wife of Canadian leader of the Aryan Nations Terry Long), Tom Metzger (White Aryan Resistance, Fallbrook, California), National Alliance (Hillsborough, Virginia).
A complaint was filed against CLN and its operator in December of 1991. The original complaint named Derek Peterson as the operator of CLN. Since Derek Peterson was a pseudonym, the complaint filed by one community organization against him as the operator of CLN was dismissed.
On September 9, 1993, the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal found that the CLN violated the Canadian Human Rights Act and ordered McAleer to stop using the telephone to spread hate. However, the Tribunal judgement did not assess damages against McAleer. However, McAleer moved the CLN to Washington state to continue operation. Contempt charges were filed and he was soon before a court again. The court ruled that McAleer had moved the CLN to avoid Canadian law. McAleer appealed the decision, but lost.
A second Human Rights Tribunal convened in 1994 to hear a complaint against McAleer for spreading hate against gays. The CLN was again found to have violated the Act and the operator was ordered to cease and desist. As with the earlier conviction, no damages were assessed.
On March 1, 1995, just a few years after McAleer run in with the law, Aryan Nations leader Charles Scott placed the following message on his telephone line:
“We at the Church of Christ in Israel are an organization of men, women and volunteers who are fighting for the rights of white Canadians. We believe that this country was built by white people and that minorities, non-white crime, and racial treason are running this nation. We are witnessing the virtual destruction of our white Aryan culture and heritage in every aspect of daily living. In order to combat this total disregard for white European values, we have dedicated our lives to working for white people everywhere. In our struggle for white victory, we have travelled throughout the country staging demonstrations and rallies, speaking to interested people, and defying the traitorous Jew-controlled federal bureaucracy, constantly spreading our demand for equal rights for whites.”
“We are laying down the groundwork for a revolution which will return power to the white race. We support the free-enterprise system, but wish to smash Jew capitalism...”
“We oppose the recognition of the bandit state of Israel by race-traitors within our government. We wish to wipe out Zionism and every kike who supports it throughout the free world... We demand a crime free, white-ruled society without the daily fear of rape, robbery and murder. All immigration from non-white nations must be stopped. Mud people must be repatriated to the land of their ancestry.” (Scott; March 1, 1995)
Like McAleer, Scott was also found to have breached the Canadian Human Rights Act and was ordered to stop. Unlike McAleer, Scott turned from using the telephone to using "White People Awake!" flyers to spread the message of white supremacy.
Thus Section 13(1) of the Canadian Human Rights Code has been the most effective means to stop the promotion of hate and genocidal propaganda on the Internet in Canada. Unfortunately, the governing Conservative Party of Canada introduced legislation in 2011 to abolish section 13(1). The legislation is at the time of writing waiting for second reading before becoming law. The effect of eliminating Section 13(1) will leave Canada more than eever vulnerable to online hate and online Nazi recrutimtnet. The Conservative Party of Canada was elected in May 2011 by a slim majority of those who voted. The major supporters of the Conservative Party of Canada are multinational businesses, right wing Christians and a majority of Jews. It remains to be seen whether the Conservative Party’s commitment to eliminating anti-semitism will be seen as consistent with the elimination of section 13(1).
Legal Protections Against Hate in the UK
Legal Protections Against Hate in the USA
Legal Protections Against Hate in Germany
2. See, for example, Lynn, William J. III. "Defending a New Domain: The Pentagon's Cyberstrategy", Foreign Affairs, Sept/Oct. 2010, pp. 97–108
4. ANP has been hacked IMHO by the old LULC; see http://pastebin.com/RdCrdenv
8. See http://www.taz.de/!75828/
12. Formerly leaked data as well as actual data had been published only as mashups for Google maps, e.g. BNP members or supporters of the German neo-Nazi party NPD
21. At moment it looks more like a bot net that had been used.
22. The Nazi letter is also published here http://bit.ly/xipCFQ
25. New York is advancing legislation to criminalize harassment on the Net , but see New York is advancing legislation to criminalize harassment on the Net
26. Know a text can’t be a catch-all – but if you like to: there are also some funny best practice examples from Germany where FB users fight neo-nazis with humor and fun. There had been a FB flashmob to smash Nazis where all participants collected a list of profiles and started to post commenst, videos etc. to set a sign against hate – before complaining them. And actually we have a funny development at FB – a growing amount of so-called “Arbeitsgruppen der NPD” (working groups of NPD) with so absurd titles like “NPD working group Stalingrad remains German forever”, “working group feministic muslima in the NPD”, “working group ‘as dumb as bread’ in NPD” etc
27. As well as to suppress voting in local, state/provincial and federal elections. See