Tag: hackers

DDoS, DNS, and The Remarkable Case of Seven Crypto-Officers

Something big happened on October 27. Something unprecedented. And like much high-level change that impacts the Internet’s basic infrastructure, this change came down to the actions of a handful of carefully chosen people. It involved a ceremony straight out of a sci-fi movie–seemingly rife with opportunity for espionage, intrigue, or a massive telegenic heist. For STS-focused social scientists, this story is compelling for the layers of trust involved, and the way technical security and human relationships intersect. That something so critical to global infrastructure can be reduced to concepts like duty and accountability is neither surprising nor novel, per se—but it is remarkable. But let me backtrack, as this is really about two news stories. Friday, October 21, 2016 saw a massive disruption in internet traffic, particularly for the Northeastern United States. The outage, a distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) started at 7am EST, appears intended as a show of force, and was directed at New Hampshire-based Internet infrastructure company Dyn. (read more...)

Biella Coleman, 2015 Forsythe Prize Winner, on IRC, Anonymous, and Wild Publics

It is truly an honor to join the cast of previous Diana Forsythe Prize winners and honorable mentions. In this blog post I decided to consider briefly a topic left unexplored in Hacker Hoaxer Whistleblower Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous that may be of interest to scholars working at the intersection of anthropology, media studies, and science and technology studies: the type of public Anonymous enacts with a lens directed at the communication infrastructure—Internet Relay Chat (IRC)—that helps sustain it. In many regards, IRC is one of the core communication technologies that helps support what Chris Kelty has elegantly defined as a recursive public: “a public that is vitally concerned with the material and practical maintenance and modification of the technical, legal, practical, and conceptual means of its own existence as a public” (2008:3). His work addresses various features of this public but one of the most important concerns how hackers have the knowledge—and by extension the power and ability—to build and maintain the technological spaces, whether it is IRC or mailing lists, that are partly, or fully, independent from the institutions where hackers and geeks otherwise labor. Image: “You call it piracy” by Anonymous – Operation Payback IRC channel. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons. (read more...)

A 3-D Future: A Response to Chris Anderson’s “Makers”

3-d printers have garnered much public attention lately. You may have heard about how you can print out a plastic gun, or saw the Gigabot large-format 3-d printer on Kickstarter. Or perhaps you heard Obama mention them in his 2013 state of the union address as having “the potential to revolutionize the way we make almost everything.” But where did they come from? On a macro level, why do they matter? One answer comes from Makers: the New Industrial Revolution, where outgoing WIRED editor Chris Anderson sees 3-d printers as driving a wave of small-scale manufacturing. Recent advances have dropped the price of additive printing systems, which delicately squeeze out plastic that hardens to make nearly any shape, to the $500-1000 range. Anderson takes Negroponte’s famous statement of working with “bits not atoms” and turns it on its head: bits can now lead to change in atoms. He sees this as the natural application of his “long tail” thesis to (read more...)