A man claiming to be from the hacktivist collective Anonymous claimed responsibility for a cyber-attack that disrupted Facebook in several countries Friday.
Speaking to The Gazette on the phone, the man, who identified himself simply as “V”, said the group was able to access the accounts of Facebook executives by fooling them into installing apps that stole some of their personal information, including administrative passwords.
One of the executives who installed these apps, the man claimed, was Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The group, he explained, spoofed emails to make it look like the apps were recommended by Facebook’s own programmers.
With access to top-level credentials, the collective was able to swerve the company’s security and flood its servers with requests in what is known as a SYN-ACK flood, a type of denial-of-service attack.
The Gazette could not verify the identity of the caller nor the veracity of his claims, however.
By their own rules, anyone who considers him or herself part of Anonymous, is part of Anonymous. There is no membership list. And although Facebook acknowledged the service disruption, the company did not mention whether Anonymous had a hand in it.
“On Thursday May 31, some users briefly experienced issues loading the site. The issues have since been resolved and everyone should now have access to Facebook. We apologize for any inconvenience,” a company statement said. A spokesperson added the disruption was not the result of a denial of service attack.
It wasn’t long however, before someone known to be part of Anonymous debunked the attack, as Anonymous has repeatedly done whenever the idea of attacking Facebook has risen in the past.
“Not only did Anonymous NOT attack Facebook, but there was no attack at all,” read the email. “Facebook IT’s were just having a bad day.”
Anonymous has a “love-hate relationship” with Facebook, the email continued. “While we enjoy the power of social networking media to do our work, bring positive change to the world and spread our message – we utterly despise the current management of Facebook and its evil anti-privacy and anti-anonymity policies.”
“But Anonymous did not attack Facebook, and we never will.”
Forbes magazine suggested it had the answer as to what really happened to Facebook in the early hours of Friday morning. The rapid spread of the Like button on all kinds of websites has increased traffic through Facebook’s servers, and that day, slowed the whole site down