Dutch schoolchildren may be the first collateral damage of an online war being waged against the Church of Scientology by a motley crew of internet troublemakers who call themselves Anonymous.
Coordination broke down Friday among the loose affiliate of online troublemakers known as Anonymous as they tried to continue their ongoing attacks against Scientology.
The group has spent the last few days trying to keep down the scientology.org website via a distributed denial of service attack, posting sensitive Scientology documents around the web, and up-voting anti-Scientology stories on Digg. The attack, dubbed Project Chanology, has a wiki that attempts to tell Anonymous 'members' what to do, though the advice is ever-changing and often contradictory.
But the Church of Scientology hired Prolexic, a company that specializes in protecting websites from DDOS attacks. Prolexic's protection works by publicly substituting a Prolexic server for the attacked server, filtering out the bad traffic and passing the good traffic to the site's real server.
One of the moderators on 711chan.org thought he had learned from a friend what the real server's address was on Friday.
The user, who was using the handle Splongcat, uploaded DDOS software configured with the supposedly secret address and urged others in an internet chat room to download and run the software. The software was intended to flood the specified IP address with rogue traffic in order to bring the server down.
But within minutes, users began complaining the software was crashing and others analyzed the traffic and found that the IP address didn't belong to the Church of Scientology, reporting that that the software was actually targeting a school in the Netherlands.
Immediately the IRC chat room hosted on 711chan.org (currently down) was filled with calls to stop using the program, and the 900 people in the chat room returned to their disorderly conversation about whether they should be flooding Digg with anti-Scientology links or making harassing phone calls to local Scientology branches.
The Etty Hillesum Lyceum's site seemed to quickly recover, and Splongcat apologized to fellow script-kiddies for simply taking his friend at his word and not checking the IP address before unleashing the software.
Anonymous launched the attack on Scientology on January 16 to protest its use of copyright law to take down material critical of the church's bizarre practices and to attempt to force media outlets to run stories about the Church of Scientology. Their stated goal is to destroy the Church of Scientology.
The Church of Scientology has not replied to THREAT LEVEL's request for comment.
Special Thanks to WIRED