A group of hackers calling itself "Anonymous" has hit the Church of Scientology's Web site with an online attack.
The attack was launched Jan. 19 by Anonymous, which is seeking media attention to help "save people from Scientology by reversing the brainwashing," according to a Web page maintained by Anonymous.
Anonymous claims to have knocked the Church's Web site offline with a DDoS attack, in which many computers bombard the victim's server with requests, overwhelming it with data in the hope of ultimately knocking the system offline. True to its name, Anonymous does not disclose the true identities of its members.
"For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind and for our own enjoyment, we shall proceed to expel you from the Internet and systematically dismantle the Church of Scientology in its present form," a creepy computerized voice states in the video. Anonymous followed up this dispatch with a second video blasting the media for failing to completely report the group's criticisms of the church. This video was taken down Friday by YouTube, citing a "terms-of-use violation."
Anonymous has managed to generate a measurable attack against the Scientology.org Web site. Over the past few days, the site was hit with several DDoS attacks, which flooded it with as much as 220Mbps of traffic, according to Jose Nazario, a senior security engineer with Arbor Networks, whose company compiles data on Internet attacks.
The Anonymous campaign shows some level of organization. "220Mbps is probably about in the middle of attack sizes," Nazario said. "It's not just one or two guys hanging out in the university dorms doing this."
On average, the attacks lasted about 30 minutes and used up 168Mbps of bandwidth. In the past year, Arbor has seen attacks on other sites hit 40Gbps, or 200 times the strength of the Anonymous event.
Shortly after it was hit with the DDoS flood, the Scientology.org Web site was moved to a server hosted by Prolexic Technologies, according to data compiled by Netcraft, an Internet monitoring company. Prolexic specializes in protecting companies from DDoS attacks.
A Prolexic spokeswoman confirmed that the Church of Scientology is one of the company's clients, but declined to offer more details on the matter. The Church of Scientology did not answer questions relating to the online attacks, but in a statement it said that the controversy over the Tom Cruise video had driven traffic to its Web site.