Possible Anonymous network attack could target Olympics partners BT, GlaxoSmithKline

Security firm Radware claims to have spotted evidence online that suggests hactivist group Anonymous is gearing up to target denial-of-service attacks on the websites of British companies BT and GlaxoSmithKline during the Olympics, and maybe do much more.

SLIDESHOW: Olympic Gold apps

The Radware Emergency Response Team has identified postings on Pastebin that suggest that Anonymous intends to attack London-based global network-services provider BT and pharmaceuticals and healthcare provider company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). Both companies happen to have roles to play associated with the London-based Olympics -- GSK is providing drug-testing and associated medical input, while BT is supporting numerous Olympics-related projects. Radware says its evidence is information posted by someone claiming to be tied to the shadowy group Anonymous.

Anonymous uses a few tools to attack its targets, and one of them is the High Orbit Ion Cannon (HOIC), a weapon that's been out for about six months, says Carl Herberger, vice president of security solutions at Radware. He says there's now attack information contained in what's called a "HOIC booster" posted online and advertised as coming from Anonymous to attack both BT and GSK. He acknowledges, though, this "could be anybody."

The HOIC tool provides you with the ability to use scripted code, Herberger says, noting it allows for opening up many connections from a single machine, and hence represents a more powerful attack tool from the older, known "Low Orbit Ion Cannon" attack tools, which couldn't do this. The HOIC booster information that's posted essentially represents something along the lines of "ordnance" that can be loaded into the HOIC to hit a target.

While the Pastebin information related to HOIC may in the end may be of no consequence, Herberger says there were a series of attacks on sites in India in the past in which this type of information was posted in advance, and the attacks did occur. Radware is putting out this information in what it regards as an advanced warning to help companies prepare.

Ellen Messmer is senior editor at Network World, an IDG publication and website, where she covers news and technology trends related to information security. Twitter: @MessmerE. Email: emessmer@nww.com.

Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.

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