Jan 19, 2011

Web wars soon to embroil

The information war will eventually threaten companies as much or more than the governments fighting against WikiLeaks.

Bernard Keane — Politics editor

Bernard Keane

Politics editor

So at last we find ourselves in a real information war. I called it an internet war some weeks ago, a term that had a nerdy, not-yet-cool-enough-to-be-retro feel to it, back when Anonymous took down Mastercard, Visa and Paypal in protest over the corporate hostility to WikiLeaks (of which more later). ‘Information war’ is more useful, because information is both the target and tool of this conflict.

Since then, Anonymous has taken down Tunisian Government websites and the web page of the Spanish Senate. Taking down a developing country’s official sites and that of one of the more obscure European parliaments, one suspects, will not feature prominently as a feat of arms when the history of the information wars comes to be written tweeted, except… can someone just explain to me how a bunch of hackers briefly pausing from playing Halo and swapping Pedobear jokes knew enough to work out something big was happening in Tunisia, when all the earnest professionals and foreign policy wonks in the western media thought it not worth bothering with?

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12 thoughts on “Web wars soon to embroil

  1. John Bennetts

    Ah, Bernard, the end of year festivities must have recharged your batteries.
    SEveral excellent contributions have come from you this year, and it’s only January 19.

    Regarding the use of the “word” lulz: It is an affectation, not worthy of you.

  2. michael crook

    Good stuff on the corporations. It is finally sinking through to those of us interested in the way our society functions that it is the corporations who actually direct our society, not the governments that we elect. It was the mining corporations that launched the advertising campaign that ended a prime ministers career.It is the media corporations that form our opinions and it is the “Fresh food people” corporations that feed us poisonous low nutritional value foods. Worst of all however are the predominently US and UK based military corporations, who have consigned us to permanent war. All of them severally and jointly have our local politicians so terrified (or corrupted) that our elected members have become mere corporate mouthpieces, eg Martin Ferguson, Anna Bligh. Can you believe that BP have been granted offshore drilling licences in Australia, surreal! The corporations are the ones holding back progress on global warming and on sustainability, it is time to break them up, but there is noone with the nerve to do it.

  3. Julian Fitzgibbon

    Given the Internet was originally designed by the military and by American firms largely – can it ever be really anonymous? I used to wonder this in the early days in the war on terror when American authorities would loudly proclaim their inability to track where videos etc were uploaded.
    A sensible military would create the illusion of an anonymous internet while keeping tight control of the extent of information it could garner.
    Then again, with the Americans who knows?

  4. paddy

    Excellent stuff Bernard. Looking forward to more of your work on the upcoming adventures in cyberspace. It’s certainly going to get even more “interesting” as wikileaks turns it’s attention to the banks etc.

  5. Stevo the Working Twistie

    Bernard, I agree with almost every word – the only bit I can fault is the title: “Web wars soon to embroil corporations”. Soon? Corporations, including the one I work for, have been at the front-line of a guerrilla war for the last 15 years at least. Spam, viruses, hoaxes, phishing, DDoS – been there, done that. It’s just nobody thought to call it the “Information Wars” up until now.

    @Julian – You’re right that the original design of an internet was originally conceived by the military, however the organic design and build of what we today call the The Internet (intentional capitals) was almost entirely done by people in educational and research institutions – including the IP Address and MAC Address standards. Part of the founding ethos of many of these people, the forebears of today’s “hackers”, was that “information wants to be free” – hence the openness of the design.

    Most IT security work consists of trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube…

  6. Malcolm Street

    Fun to see IPA parrot Tim Wilson on The Drum last night, defending leaking government info but being full of moral indignation about information on companies being leaked… Nice try for your corporate mates, but no cigar.

    Pity they didn’t put Chris Berg on, who at least has some original thought processes, but he strikes me as more a libertarian than the typical IPA drone and mightn’t have stuck to the party line…

  7. John Bennetts

    Malcolm must have a very high pain threshhold.

    I found myself arguing at the television every time Tim Wilson opened his mouth, so for the continuing health of both the watcher and the watched, I turned it off.

    Where does the IPA find their stooges? It’s all so sad.

  8. Bernard Keane

    Thanks John – you might Google “truly epic lulz” – it was a nod to the source material.

  9. John Bennetts

    Bernard, being of a certain age, I also had to google the term. The world is not better for its existence.

    BTW, now that the verb “to google” has been accepted into the english language, isn’t it time to drop the capitalisation which is associated with a proper noun? Kinda like English Vs english.

  10. MLF

    Agree, excellent stuff. (Agree on ‘google’ too…)

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