4chan and movie piracy are closely linked: Many of the anarchic message board's users frequent sites like the Pirate Bay to download movies they can watch alone in their parents' basement. Now, 4chan is attacking the champions of anti-piracy efforts.
The Motion Picture Association of America's website has been down since this morning, felled by a malicious flood of traffic co-ordinated by 4chan. (A similar attack brought down Gawker briefly this summer.) The assault appears to be in retaliation for the CEO of an Indian tech firm boasting that his company launches similar attacks on movie pirating websites like The Pirate Bay at the behest of film studios. That company's website was quickly brought down, as the panicked CEO tried to backtrack from his comments.
Last night, in an announcement circulated on 4chan and the web, a change of target was announced:
We target the bastard group that has thus far led this charge against our websites, like The Pirate Bay. We target MPAA.ORG! The IP is designated at "184.108.40.206″, and our firing time remains THE SAME. All details are just as before, but we have reaimed our crosshairs on this much larger target. We have the manpower, we have the botnets, it's time we do to them what they keep doing to us.
REPEAT: AIPLEX IS ALREADY DOWN THANKS TO A SINGLE ANON. WE ARE MIGRATING TARGETS.
A few hours later, MPAA.org was down.
How does 4chan launch such effective attacks? There's this program with the appropriately nerdy name Low-Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC); anyone with an internet connection and a bit of time to watch a YouTube tutorial can install LOIC and make it repeatedly ping a website. Enough LOICs simultaneously firing will bring almost any website down.
The hard part is amassing enough anonymous users to make the attack effective. As evidenced here, one great way is to get between nerds and their free movies.
Update: 4chan user "Fruit Salad" wrote in, apparently offended at our characterization of 4chan users as "nerds in their basements." They write: "Some of us live in houses and apartments, too." Indeed, the nerds on 4chan can live almost anywhere, provided it has four walls and shelving for their Star Wars memorabilia collection.