Tango Down: Brazil Govt. Sites, Visa, MasterCard Go Down

Brazilian Anonymous members have taken down more than 100 Brazil government website including law enforcement and government department websites; though most have returned online now. The two hackers publicizing the hackers used the Twitter pseudonyms of Havittaja and The evilc0de; tweeting the infamous line of “tango down” for each attack, a line also used by LulzSec.

The attacks also affected Visa Brazil and MasterCard Brazil, with Visa still suffering downtime. A near complete list of government website attacks have been posted on Pastebin by the hackers with 107 websites taken down by attacking df.gov.br, as the Brazilian government set up websites with sub-domains on the government portal website. However, Havittaja is still tweeting as they bring down websites.

AnonymousIRC tweeted “Brazilians on a killing spree now!” These hacks follow a spate of Anonymous attacks on US entertainment industry and government websites over MegaUpload.com which has been taken down due to alleged piracy charges. One of the hackers involved in the attack, Havittaja, linked to a profile detailing 48 website exploits and “defacement”; with their Twitter tagline saying “yes I’m a defacer”.

White House ‎Responds to Software Patent Petition

As part of the Obama administration’s “We the People” petitions program, the White House responded to a petition to Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents with 14,862 signatures.

The response from Quentin Palfrey, Senior Advisor at the White House, included a lengthy part on the America Invents Act which has been criticized by some as not making an overhaul to the current patent system. The America Invents Act, he said, would “it will help companies and inventors avoid costly delays and unnecessary litigation, and let them focus instead on innovation and job creation”. Most likely in changes from the “first to invent” to “first to file” system.

Palfrey said that high patent quality was something that the administration wanted saying “the Administration took other important steps to ensure that only high-quality patents are issued, and that we curb or invalidate overly broad software patents”. Palfrey said “Congress recognized that more needs to be done to review and weed out overly broad patents that have been issued in the past”.

Palfrey pointed out that efforts in making data and source code open in projects such as Data.gov highlighted the importance of open-source for the government. On the issue of open-source and patent infringement, Palfrey said

We understand that the concern about software patents stems, in part, from concerns that overly broad patents on software-based inventions may stifle the very innovative and creative open source software development community. As an Administration, we recognize the tremendous value of open source innovation and rely on it to accomplish key missions.

LulzSec Brazil Takes Down Brazilian Government Websites

A new branch of LulzSec in Brazil has aimed a denial-of-service attack at the Brazilian Government portal and the homepage of the President of Brazil. The sub-group tweeted that they had taken down the website with the same tagline of ‘tango down’ whilst LulzSec tweeted ‘our Brazilian unit is making progress. Well done @LulzSecBrazil, brothers!’

The group was started on 19 June, they told their followers in Portuguese that if they got 1,000 followers they would ‘invade’ the website of the Brazil’s government portal.

The Brazil branch is likely part of the Anonymous and LulzSec operation called ‘AntiSec’ which was recently publicized by both groups. An AntiSec video from Anonymous  said:

We encourage defacement’s of the enemies websites, and use of the word antisec on any and every website or pro censorship group. Any exposed intelligence the enemy decides to withhold from us, should be brought to light. It’s time to show the corrupt governments of the world that they have no right to censor what they do not own.

The video was posted on YouTube in a format commonly used by Anonymous. AntiSec documents are yet to be released with LulzSec tweeting ‘our next step is to categorize and format leaked items we acquire and release them in #AntiSec “payloads” on our website and The Pirate Bay.’

LulzSec Hacks Senate.gov and Bethesda Softworks

LulzSec has gained access to internal data from the United States Senate website, as well as source code and database passwords from Bethesda Softworks.

Bethesda Softworks has produced popular gaming series including Brink, The Elder Scrolls and Fallout. LulzSec said in a press release that they have not stolen the details of more than 200,000 customers. They added ‘we actually like this company and would like for them to speed up the production of Skyrim, so we’ll give them one less thing to worry about.’ According to LulzSec, they hacked into the website two months ago. ‘Please fix your junk,’ advised the company via Twitter.

Sophos, an internet security company, said in a blog post on the LulzSec Senate leak that ‘some basic information on the filesystems, user logins and the Apache web server config files,’ has been stolen. Sophos also mentioned that such hacks were punishable under law, with jail terms of five to twenty years.

In a press release on the Senate by LulzSec, they said ‘this is a small, just-for-kicks release of some internal data from Senate.gov – is this an act of war, gentlemen? Problem?’ A possible reference to Pentagon stating that hacking was an act of war, reported by the Wall Street Journal.

Making Data Open Is a Smart Move

From the practical of looking at how much money is spent on the war throughout the years, food environment and labor force statistics to the resulting apps of comparing hospitals, travel warning and a flu map widget. Open data is making it possible for many companies, citizens and governments to share data and make data useful for the public.

Just two years ago, the Obama administration in the United States of America launched their own public data website. Turning raw data into graphs, making the data exportable, filtering data and sharing the resulting visualizations and so are many organizations and countries. Data.gov say they are ‘leading the way in democratizing public sector data and driving innovation.’ Today they list over 16 countries around the world who are investing in open data.  Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Italy and Denmark are just some of the countries experimenting with the concept, or as the United Kingdom brands their data website: in ‘beta,’ the software development phase for testing an unfinished product.

Ola Rosling, Product Manager at Google said that ‘reliable information about these kinds of things exists thanks to the hard work of data collectors gathering countless survey forms,’ launching the Google’s Public Data Explorer. The data is mostly sourced from the government departments and allows you to explore through simple graphs and filters changes in categories.

Another project which makes statistics easy to visualize is Gapminder. Hans Rosling co-founded Gapminder with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund and developed Trendalyzer, the software which powers the graphs. Trendalyzer is now owned by Google who also use it in their Public Data Explorer and are continuing to develop and share the software. Hans Rosling is convinced that ‘there’s nothing boring about stats’ and he even created a one-hour documentary for the BBC.