As detailed by NakedSecurity, hackers operating under the flag of the infamous organization “Anonymous” have hacked into various US government websites and encoded the game of Asteroids into them as part of a protest over the death of Aaron Swartz, an internet activist who committed suicide earlier this month.
According to VG247, Swartz, who used MIT’s network to download millions of articles from the academic journal archive JSTOR and make them available to others without restriction, faced hacking charges brought on by prosecutor Scott Garland. His actions also caused the JSTOR servers to shutdown briefly due to the amount of files he downloaded at a time, which caused MIT’s library to be blocked for a few days by JSTOR.
The kicker is that despite JSTOR and MIT agreeing that Swartz’s actions were a breach of the Terms of Service agreement, neither were willing to press charges. Garland continued on, arguing that Swartz committed a federal crime and stood to gain financially from the free files.
The indictment read:
“Aaron Swartz devised a scheme to defraud JSTOR of a substantial number of journal articles which they had invested in collecting, obtaining the rights to distribute and digitizing… He sought to defraud MIT and JSTOR of rights and property.”
Swartz, who had a history of depression, took his life earlier this month, and in reaction, Anonymous “hacktivists” have threatened to leak sensitive government information. In the meantime, they’ve decided to lash out by encoding various US government websites with the classic game of Asteroids.
A game of “Nyan-cat flavoured” Asteroids will begin if you enter the following “classic Konami code”:
↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← → B A [Enter]
(up up, down down, left right, left right on the cursor keys; then press “B”, “A” and “Enter”).
Again, as detailed by NakedSecurity, a message will pop up with the following:
And then an Asteroids game begins, with the website slowly disentegrating as your ship shoots it up with its lasers:
Behind the veil, the coding is said to look like this:
This started over the weekend with the US Sentencing Commission website, and continued on to Michigan’s Eastern District Probation Office website. While those websites have since been cleaned, there’s no telling if the hacks will continued unabated.
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