Notorious hacker group Anonymous is striking back after Megaupload, the popular online file-sharing service, was shut down by the U.S. Department of Justice.
In an indictment unsealed Jan. 19, the Justice Department alleged Megaupload enables "massive worldwide online piracy of numerous types of copyrighted works” through the uploading and downloading of files to a unique URL without regard to copyright status of the files.
In addition to copyright infringement, the two corporations -- Megaupload Ltd. and Vestor Ltd. -- were charged with engaging in racketeering, conspiracy and money laundering.
In all, eight principals were charged, including founder Kim Dotcom, a.k.a. Kim Schmitz, and his business partner Tim Vestor. Also charged were the company's CMO, CTO, head of graphics design, head of software development and networking chief.
Following the unsealing of the indictment and the arrest the forthcoming attempts to extradite the principals from New Zealand and Hong Kong, Anonymous launched a series of attacks on several entertainment industry and government sites, including the Justice Department, Universal Music, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America.
"We are having website problems, but we're not sure what it's from," a DOJ spokeswoman told CNNMoney.
Anonymous also sent links to Twitter accounts, making some users unwitting participants in the Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks if they clicked on a provided link.
According to news reports Anonymous claims to have employed more than 5,000 hackers using a tool called "low orbit ion cannon (LOIC)," which targets a site with a huge amount of traffic in a DDoS attack. The sites targeted by Anonymous were restored, but Megaupload is apparently down for the count. (Nevertheless, there are other sites that offer similar file-sharing services.)
Time will tell if the Justice Department intends to use Megaupload as an example to others or this is just the beginning of an across-the-board strike against such sites.