question of the weekend: Are the actions of hacker group Anonymous effective or mere vandalism?

From The New York Times yesterday:

Warned of an Attack on the Internet, and Getting Ready

SAN FRANCISCO — On a quiet Sunday in mid-February, something curious attracted the attention of the behind-the-scenes engineers who scour the Internet for signs of trouble. There, among the ubiquitous boasts posted by the hacking collective Anonymous, was a call to attack some of the network’s most crucial parts.

The message called it Operation Global Blackout, and rallied Anonymous supporters worldwide to attack the Domain Name System, which converts human-friendly domain names like into numeric addresses that are more useful for computers.

It declared when the attack would be carried out: March 31. And it detailed exactly how: by bombarding the Domain Name System with junk traffic in an effort to overwhelm it altogether.

That threatened attack is supposed to happen today. The article goes on to discuss, however, how those responsible for Internet infrastructure have spent the last few weeks beefing up the resilience of the DNS system. It almost sounds as if Anonymous intended this as the result of their threat. But:

Part of the challenge here is the mercurial and leaderless nature of the Anonymous movement. Just after one so-called Anonymous member called for the attack to protest, among other things, “our irresponsible leaders and the beloved bankers who are starving the world for their own selfish needs out of sheer sadistic fun,” another unnamed member of the movement pushed back. “I don’t think this is a good idea,” this person wrote on an Anonymous-affiliated site. “The collateral damage is not worth it.”

I’m as anti-big-bank as they come, but I don’t see how this sort of attack would serve as a protest against big banks.

What do you think? Are the actions of hacker group Anonymous effective or mere vandalism? Do you, perhaps, support their goals but not how they go about promoting them? Or is there no value at all in what they do?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD/QOTW, feel free to email me. Responses to this QOTW sent by email will be ignored; please post your responses here.)

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