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Who are the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters?

The Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters, hackers who have attacked US-based banks in defense of Islam, claim to be operating independently.
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Egyptian protesters climb down from the wall of the US embassy in Cairo on September 11, 2012 during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam. Thousands of Egyptian demonstrators angered by the film produced by expatriate members of Egypt's Christian minority resident in the United States, tore down the US flag during the protest at the embassy. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

They have every hallmark of Anonymous, the amorphous hacker collective that has tripped up everything from governments to banks in recent years. The one difference? The Izz as-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters are fighting for the Muslim world.

The group, which has attacked US-based banks, claim to be operating independently, contrary to what US officials have reported.

After protests erupted throughout the Muslim world in response to the anti-Islam video "Innocence of Muslims," the hacker collective took their grievances online.

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Gabon shuts down latest Dotcom domain

Gabon has shut down Kim Dotcom’s latest domain intended to host his file sharing service shut a few days after announcing his me.ga domain.
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Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom at North Shore District Court on February 22, 2012 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Sandra Mu/AFP/Getty Images)

Gabon has shut down Kim Dotcom’s latest domain intended to host his file sharing service just a few days after announcing the me.ga domain.

In yet another bizarre twist to the Dotcom internet opera, The Central African nation that is assigned the .ga domain shut down the site last Tuesday to prevent their domain from being used as a safe haven for file sharing and copyright violation.

"I have instructed my departments... to immediately suspend the site www.me.ga," said Gabon’s Communication Minister Blaise Louembe to AFP.

"Gabon cannot serve as a platform or screen for committing acts aimed at violating copyrights, nor be used by unscrupulous people," the minister added.

The minister’s announcement came just days after Dotcom unveiled plans to launch his new file sharing platform, Mega, on the one year anniversary of his arrest by authorities in New Zealand last January. 

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Games journalism suffers an identity crisis

Following a scandal now known as “Dorito-Gate”, gaming journalism is suffering an identity crisis.
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Following a scandal now known as “Dorito-Gate”, the gaming journalism industry is suffering an identity crisis as game developers and journalists begin to take inventory.

Sparking the scandal, GTTV host Geoff Keighley conducted interviews comically flanked by a bag of Doritos, several bottles of Mountain Dew and a large cardboard cutout advertising Halo 4 emblazoned with more Mountain Dew branding. 

One games journalist, Robert Florence, was pushed over the edge by the advertising spectacle. 

“The information is controlled. Everyone stays friendly. It's a steady flow of Mountain Dew pouring from the hills of the money men, down through the fingers of the weary journos, down into your mouths. At some point you will have to stop drinking that stuff and demand something better,” wrote Florence in an article for Eurogamer. 

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Dotcom launches teaser for Megaupload's replacement, Mega

While his lawyers fight for the return of user data under digital lock and key by the US, Dotcom is forging ahead with plans to resurrect his file-sharing empire.
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A screengrab of http://kim.com/mega/ (Screengrab/Screengrab)

While his lawyers fight for the return of user data under digital lock and key by the US government, Dotcom is forging ahead with plans to resurrect his file-sharing empire. This week he revealed his plans to launch Megaupload’s successor, Mega.

With a launch scheduled for the one year anniversary of Dotcom’s arrest, Mega said he has enhanced user privacy to keep law enforcement at bay.

“In the past, securely storing and transferring confidential information required the installation of dedicated software. The new Mega encrypts and decrypts your data transparently in your browser, on the fly,” read the teaser at Mega’s URL posted late Wednesday night.

“You hold the keys to what you store in the cloud, not us.” 

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While Anon dominates headlines, small businesses suffer DDoS attacks

A much larger percentage of DDoS attacks, which temporarily disable a website, are being launched not for ideological reasons but for financial gain.
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A computer screen of Dirk Engling, spokesperson of the Chaos Computer Club, shows the file name (highlighted) of the Trojan spyware allegedly made by the German authorities in the CCC's offices in Berlin on October 12 , 2011. The computer club and German hacker organization claims to have cracked spying software allegedly used by German authorities. The Trojan horse has functions which go way beyond those allowed by German law. The news has sparked a wave of outrage among politicians and media commentators. (Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images)

The distributed denial of service attack (DDoS) has become the protest tool de jour for online activists and political protesters.

The attack, which temporarily disables a website, is frequently used by hacker collectives of all ideologies, including Anonymous, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighers and the now defunct LulzSec.

But these are only a small percentage of the total number of DDoS hacks happening on a daily basis. The majority of attacks are against small businesses and are for financial gain. An attack against a website belonging to a government that is murdering peaceful protesters would be generally well received and enjoy a good deal of exposure. A financially motivated attacked against a small business does not.

“These types of attacks that are normally reported on, all of these folks have a bone to pick with somebody. These are the very small minority of attacks but they are the most well-known, they go on twitter and say tango down,” Jeffrey Lyon, CEO and President of Black Lotus, a web security firm specializing in DDoS protection and mitigation, told GlobalPost.

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Germany: Pirate Party falls from grace

Germany’s once popular Pirate Party, one of Europe’s leading internet freedom political organizations, has fallen out of favor with voters.
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Representatives of the German Pirate Party from the states in which the party won seats in regional elections pose for a group photo in the Berlin Parliament (Abgeordnetenhaus) building on June 9, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. The Pirates, a newcomer on the German political scene, are capitalizing on discontent with Germany's established parties and have already won major seats in four state parliaments, but incidents of infighting and disagreements are affecting unity within the party. (Adam Berry/AFP/Getty Images)

Germany’s once popular Pirate Party, one of Europe’s leading internet freedom political organizations, has fallen out of favor with voters, according to Der Spiegel.

The Pirate Party’s political philosophy was born in Sweden out of the controversy surrounding The Pirate Bay, a file-sharing site that has played a game of cat and mouse with authorities since 2006. More recently, the party's philosophy has since taken root worldwide. It's political ideology has perhaps found the greatest success in Germany.

However, once a rising star of German politics, the party has failed to secure seats in federal parliament. A series of scandals has tarnished members of the Pirate Party and derailed the success it had enjoyed in 2011 during state parliamentary elections.

For many, the Pirate Party has become an organization full of shameless self-promoters and playboys.

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Gearbox releases Borderlands for iOS, mobile games continue to dominate market

Borderlands, the hit post-apocalyptic first person shooter role playing game, is being released for iOS devices and will be able to be played on iPads and other Apple mobile devices.
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Borderlands, the hit post-apocalyptic first person shooter role playing game, is being released for iOS devices and will be able to be played on iPads and other Apple mobile devices.

Borderlands Legends will be a smaller version of the console and PC game, bringing yet another blockbuster gaming title to mobile platforms.

While the release has not been officially announced by its developer, Gearbox, an advertisement appeared for Borderlands Legends in the Borderlands 2 digital strategy guide and was posted to the official Gearbox forum.

“Borderlands Legends is the latest edition to the borderlands franchise, specifically designed for mobile and tablet. Control Mordecai, Lilith, Brick and Roland and take out the oncoming waves of enemies,” read the advertisement.

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The Pirate Bay moves to the cloud in attempt to become raid-proof

In effort to avoid authorities, file-sharing website The Pirate Bay moves from physical servers to cloud services.
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The new homepage at thepiratebay.se announcing the site's move from physical servers to cloud networks around the world. (Screengrab/Screengrab)

The Pirate Bay is moving from physical servers to cloud services, taking the site from corporeal machines to data centers around the world.

The change in infrastructure for one of the world’s most popular BitTorrent websites makes the file-sharing hub virtually immune to police raids and shut downs by legal authorities. The Pirate Bay is now hosted in two countries on virtual machines (VMs) according to BitTorrent friendly news site TorrentFreak.

“If one cloud-provider cuts us off, goes offline or goes bankrupt, we can just buy new virtual servers from the next provider. Then we only have to upload the VM-images and reconfigure the load-balancer to get the site up and running again," the Pirate bay told TorrentFreak.

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Anonymous pulls support from Wikileaks

Calling the controversial whistle blowing website the "One Man Julian Assange Show," the hacker collective Anonymous has pulled its support from Wikileaks.
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With literally all eyes on him, Assange will have to come up with a brilliant embassy escape plan if granted asylum by Ecuador. (Leon Neal /AFP/Getty Images)

The Anonymous collective has publicly pulled its support for Julian Assange and his infamous whistleblowing website, Wikileaks.

Taking issue with Assange’s personal use of the site and its monetization, one Anonymous Twitter account closely associated with the collective stated that Wikileaks had been ruined by egos.

“The end of an era. We unfollowed @Wikileaks and withdraw our support. It was an awesome idea, ruined by Egos. Good Bye. #Anonymous,” tweeted AnonymousIRC.

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UPRISER.com aims to consolidate political power on the internet

UPRISER.com is bringing Anonymous, Occupy and other change-oriented sectors of the web together on one site in an attempt to further enable political and societal transformation.
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UPRISER.com (Screengrab/Screengrab)

With its victory against the Stop Online Piracy Act last January, the internet proved its ability to influence the halls of power. Online juggernauts Reddit, 4chan and Wikipedia, as well as thousands of other websites, all collaborated and shut down in protest.

Now the internet community is organizing further, consolidating the actvism of various groups — Anonymous, Occupy and other change-oriented sectors of the web — on one site. It's an attempt, those behind it say, to further enable political and societal transformation using the web.

UPRISER.com, using the Reddit open source code, will replace sometimes trivial subreddits with “movements”, like whistleblowing, Anonymous or Occupy. Much more than just a Reddit for activism, UPRISER CEO and author Garret LoPorto is looking to revolutionize the internet’s ability to make positive, important change.

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