A botnet is nothing more than thousands and thousands of networked computers following the instructions of a single remote authority. The machines tend to be running Windows and, conventionally, their owners are unaware that they are involved. During a Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attack, each computer in the botnet repeatedly performs a simple task like pinging a web server somewhere else on the net.
Given a sufficiently large botnet, the server is so overwhelmed that no one can access any of the websites that it hosts.
As far as I can tell, botnet participants usually join up accidently while flailing around in search of pr0n (or buying a computer in China.) During today’s DDoS attacks on Visa and Mastercard, however, it looks like a significant number of people voluntarily added their machines to the botnet.
Outrage through outtage? This-what-democracy-looks-like.com?
Barlow says “we’re all footsoldiers in this war” but we should resist war-like metaphors. Anons are not risking their lives when they “get behind the proxy” and join the DDoS attack on Visa. It’s a trap: no one but the U.S. government ever wins a War on Whatever.
This is about the failure of private institutions to steward our popular culture. But what makes us think they would? Will Soundcloud take down Assange’s old dubstep mixes?
We really need an anthem, Dutty Artz! What’s the sound of a volunteer botnet?