Major Websites Went Offline Today, Scams Expected

Jay Decenella, IT audit expert
January 18, 2012 /

Today, popular websites such as Wikipedia and news site Boing Boing have blacked out their home pages in protest of the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), a federal move that’s been facing wide opposition from Internet players.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith introduced SOPA to stop online piracy by allowing the government to penalize Web sites that contain copyrighted material without permission.

Boing Boing and Wikipedia, among others, took the concerted move to show the Congress their strong opposition against the Bill.

Boing Boing said: “…the US Senate is considering legislation that would certainly kill us forever. The legislation is called the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA), and would put us in legal jeopardy if we linked to a site anywhere online that had any links to copyright infringement.

“This would unmake the Web, just as proposed in the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). We don’t want that world.”

Wikipedia seconded by saying the legislation “could fatally damage the free and open internet.”

The black out will last for 24 hours. Other websites joining the protest include Mozilla, Reddit, and TwitPic.

Fight for the Future, a no-profit organization that organized the strike against the web censorship bills SOPA and PIPA, said: “People love huge open libraries of music, books and video. They don’t like censorship and legal landmines that get you sued for making amazing things.

“They love privacy and open platforms to create and invent. They’re happy to pay for good stuff, but hate being coerced to pay for mediocrity and middlemen.”

However, social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter and search giant Google remained online despite the call to join the strike, which was responded favorably to by its competitors.

But some cyber criminals might take advantage of the strike, obviously not to help in promoting anti-internet censorship but to funnel large amount of money from unsuspecting users.

“Like other newsworthy events these days, it is likely to generate attempts by organized criminals to promote malicious websites by manipulating search engine results through black hat search engine optimization (BHSEO) technique,” said Aryeh Goretsky, a security researcher from ESET.

The scam may involve luring users into bypassing the blackout by visiting a new web site, which Goretsky discouraged.

“The “new” site being promoted may have far more malicious actions than in mind than pictures of kittens, discussions about ents, bacon and narwhals or jokes about arrows to the knee,” he said.


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