back to article Anonymous turns attack drones against fax machines

Pro-Wikileaks hacktivists have begun targeting the fax machines rather than the websites of firms who have withdrawn services from Wikileaks. As part of the new Leakflood mission, activists have been encouraged to send faxes to Amazon, MasterCard, Moneybookers, PayPal, Visa and Tableau Software. The group published a list of …


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  1. Anonymous Cowherder
    Thumb Up

    The title is required, and must contain letters and/or digits.

    I hate fax machines, always have done, always will do. Anything that encourages their demise is ok in my book.

    Keep up the good work anonymous!

  2. Stone Fox

    for teh lulz!

    Can we gave a guy fawkes or legion icon now please?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      How about

      A Script Kiddie Anarchist icon?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Yeah that will do it

    Go hacktivists go! Attacking and harassing these companies will get them on your side. Yes indeed!

    All you need to do is launch DDOS attacks etc. and they'll toss aside their business dealings and their good graces and support Wikileaks to the hilt! Fight censorship by censoring these people!

    Or rather they won't. They'll largely ignore the attacks except in coordinating with law enforcement in whatever way necessary to get at least a few of these idiots sent down if possible.

    Perhaps 4chan can divert their attention and start DDOS'ing the law courts next. I'm fully expecting some children are already plotting just that very eventuality if Julian Assange's hearing doesn't go to their liking.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Yeah that will do it

      Go America go! Attacking and harassing these countries will get them on your side. Yes indeed!

      All you need to do is launch drone attacks etc. and they'll toss aside their business dealings and their good graces and support your agenda to the hilt! Fight terrorism by terrorising these people!

      Or rather they won't. They'll largely ignore the attacks except in coordinating with the Taliban in whatever way necessary to get at least a few of 'our boys' killed if possible.

      I'll stop the search-and-destroy^H^H^H^H^H^H^Hreplace now....

    2. Mephistro

      @ AC Posted Tuesday 14th December 2010 12:17 GMT

      "Attacking and harassing these companies will get them on your side."

      Nothing will get them on our side, except giving them everything we have for free -money, freedom...-. Big companies MUST be 'controlled' by Law. If Law fails to control them then the citizens's duty is to control them through protests and even sabotage, if needed.

  4. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

    And nothing of value was lost...

    People still use fax machines???

    1. lIsRT
      Thumb Up


      They remain very useful in certain situations - in my work it's mainly for purchasing; if a supplier has a fax number it's always used in preference to an email or web forms for several reasons:

      it's quick - fill in (paper!) order form, insert into machine, key in number, press "fax" and it's done.

      all you need is the fax number - no usernames or passwords

      confirmation - it prints out a sheet saying whether it was sent or not

      Is there an alternative which equals or betters fax machines for each of those three points?

      1. Fuzz

        Scan to email

        Fill in paper form, put in scanner, enter email address, press go.

        Confirmation is in the email logs.

        Better quality, easier to store, easier to find later, cheaper, faster.

        People who want to use fax machines need help. (unless it's a thermal fax, nothing like a funny coloured rolled up piece of paper with indecipherable text)

        1. Wize

          Many places still use faxes

          You have a better confirmation of receipt for them.

          And not everywhere has a 'scan to email' handily available. I've been on a few work sites where a basic photocopier is a luxury.

          If you are worried about the trees, there is software that will sit on your receiving end and stick them all on your network drive as PDF, TIFF or other format of your choice.

      2. Alex 14
        IT Angle

        Some kinda webby form, maybe?

        They're quick (or quicker if you can type faster than you can write), no need to take paper to a machine, no numbers to key in, press "send" and it's done.

        All you need is a PC with internet access and a browser, usernames and passwords not necessarily required but can be used to save order histories so you don't need to complete the same form again for repeat orders.

        Confirmation - message saying the order was sent plus an email saying it was received.

        Don't get me wrong, there might be some vestigial uses for fax machines but I'm not sure your example was one of them.

      3. peyton?

        You can write faster than type?!

        Nice to see browsing The Reg is on today's activity board at the Home, probably right before bingo?


        sorry, i'm being a jerk. i'll go away now.

    2. Elmer Phud

      The difference is?

      Fax machine = scanner, modem, printer, processor, memory, display

      1. Wize

        @Elmer Phud

        "Fax machine = scanner, modem, printer, processor, memory, display"

        Yea, but a low quality scanner and printer.

        There are some out there still using thermal paper too.

    3. BillG

      Not fax machines, Fox boxes

      Actually, these companies don't use fax machines, they use electronic fax computers. The fax you send doesn't go to paper, it goes to a computer that stores the faxes, much like an email account. Any the fax can be pulled up, viewed, and they can quickly print as many copies as they want. They can also be easily deleted.

      So, a 100-page fax can be deleted just as easily as a one-page fax.

      I think that this useless fax attack is kinda proof that these anonymous cowards are too young to know how these companies really operate.

    4. Scorchio!!

      Re: And nothing of value was lost...

      Mine's a USR modem, but some people still like paper.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Two prams rolling down a hill...

    full of kiddies throwing toys at each other, flanked by black vans with cameras and aerials and a few black copters above all taking the names of those thowing toys.

    All the faxes run out of paper, more trees are chopped down to replace the paper, cue Greenpeace jumping into a pram and joining the toy fight.

    While this is being read, there are about 1200 DDoS attacks in progress, some are just trying out techniques, others are serious attacks. The Wikileaks payback attacks registered about 1 Gb/s and bounced off Amazon. Serious attacks up to 70Gb/s have been launched, these kill targets.

    Still, it is a learning curve, some damage has been done, so expect some of the not so anonymous Anonymous to be made an example of.

  6. Anonymous Coward


    Please, not the fax machine. Anything but the fax machine, how will Amazon cope without faxes?

    1. PikeyDawg

      The point...

      Is to waste ink and force the targets to buy more. I'm not sure about Fax machines, but if their ink costs are anything like my inkjet printer I can imagine this would be annoying.

      That said, I'd be a little surprised if a company like Amazon was still doing a lot of paper-based faxing. Many companies have moved to Electronic Faxing (received by a computer instead of a fax machine, makes a PDF instead of a physical printout, etc) in which case this would be a pointless exercise.

      1. Scorchio!!

        Re: The point...

        Yeah, Demon Internet started doing free virtual fax machine numbers for their users in the 90s. I think the link with that Telco may have been burken with the change in ownership to Thus PLC, though I could be wrong.

        I have a free one somewhere that I have never used, and my USR fax modem has been disconnected for about a year, ever since a GF started leaving too many messages.

    2. Scorchio!!

      Re: Noooooo!

      Fetch *the comfee chyair*!!!!!! [...]

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I'm sure many of us will know people who taped a sheet in a loop with 'Piss Off' written on it to fax spammers with freephone reply numbers.

    1. JasonW


      I used to use a piece of black paper taped up - typically it either depleted the ink at the far end or if they had a thermal paper fax, burned the head out.

    2. Wize

      Don't even need that.

      Plenty of 'print to fax' drivers out there to talk out your (or a server's) modem and act like a fax machine.

      Probably the same idea at the spammer's end as its doubtful they print then fax, so they won't be generating paper, just PDF files.

      And don't forget Joe Jobs

      1. Anonymous Coward

        print to fax drivers

        As a tech, I disliked fax machines. I also was responsible for the telephone switch, so I came up with a solution to the fax problem.

        My solution was to ditch most of them by connecting a bank of modems to a server. The fax gets converted to a image, connected to an email and delivered to the inbox of the recipient. A block of DDI's costs next door to nothing, so it costs hardly anything to provide a fax number for each staff member as well as a DDI. Running through the telephone system & ISDN30, lines only exist as long as the fax "call" does.

        Now, I can't be the only person to do this. I'd be stunned if large numbers of businesses are still killing trees to feed fax machines.

        If someone started throwing large numbers of faxes at me, I can; -

        1) Block them on the telephone switch

        2) Block them on the fax server

        3) Block them through anti spam filtering on the email server (well, it's similar enough to spam in image attachments...)

        4) Complain to my telco about abusive telephone calls.

        4a) The telco can block the number from entering their network and;

        4b) Attempting to do a DOS against a fax line is (IIRC) a criminal offence under the telecommunications act 1984 and a telco is obliged to take action.

        Frankly, being a dick with telephone calls is stupid. It's not like the internet, you leave a trail in indelible ink back to the phone you use.

        So yes, please spam away to your heart's content. I'll enjoy watching the reg reporting a large number of convictions in a few months.

        1. Scorchio!!

          Re: print to fax drivers

          Not so fast, they can 2600 from public 'phone boxes, if there are any left. Also free SIMM cards are handy. I have a few in my desk, just to my left.

  8. Big Al
    Big Brother


    Surely the organisations concerned can mitigate the effects by simply unplugging their fax machines for the day? It's not like an awful lot of important things are sent by fax anymore.

    Meanwhile, the free fax providers will presumably be going through lots of extra bandwidth - how likely are they simply to quietly block sends to the target numbers, without the senders being aware?

  9. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    Trouble is that there are *much* more concrete and established laws against malicious telecommunication over a phone / fax line than over the general Internet. It's likely to be much easier to punish people, e.g. by cutting off *their* phone line. All you'll do is get MyFax into trouble, who'll then push it back to you or secure their service properly. Probably takes a minute to add their Caller ID number to a blocklist on the fax system at the other end, or to just not answer all non-caller ID calls, and then you're back to glorious silence and only slightly more hang-ups than usual.

    And, to what end? They would just advertise another (up until now private) number to their clients who *really* need to fax something to them, which may or may not eventually make it into the attack list, when they then move to another number - but basically it's more a nuisance than anything constructive (or even destructive). I know that the schools I work in have a dedicated switchboard line and external number for fax, and mostly it goes straight to a Fax-to-email gateway of some kind, and if a primary school has that kind of setup, you can be sure that a huge organisation has a much better one. All they've done is stuff people who are, say, abroad and need to fax proof that they are the person who lost their Visa card, etc. Hurting people who have no connection to the actual events is likely to make things infinitely worse overall than actually targeting your message properly.

    I wouldn't be surprised if someone like Visa has hundreds or even thousands of fax lines, all automated by some Asterix-esque hunk of metal. Sure it's a nuisance for the person reading them but then that's likely to be some lowly secretary who receives and treats it just like spam email. The software company might be a bit smaller, but still they probably have a decent setup. It's unlikely to be costing ink or paper in this day and age, with fax-capable MFD's, scanners and photocopiers before you even get into Hylafax setups or the like. It's just the same as sending a bit of spam and holding up the phone line for 30-seconds or so.

    It's childishness, aimed at avenues that are, ultimately, pretty weak and unrelated. Next some idiot will suggest attacking the UK Police websites because they're the ones who arrested him, and then you'll be in *actual* deep trouble, rather than just being treated as a bunch of random idiots with a petition (which is *exactly* how Anonymous behave: "sign my petition to end taxation and make cocaine legal!", and they get viewed by others in exactly the same fashion as such petitions would be).

    I'm not even sure *what* the grievance is so far, except possibly "We think you might eventually, possibly, take our ball away, mister". An organisation committed an almost certainly illegal act (whether they are prosecuted or not doesn't reflect on the actual illegality of the act), went public, then had it's funding cut by credit card companies and banks (who can do that for *no* reason if they really want to - read your terms and conditions), its hosting denied by a company that has T&C's against hosting such content (and probably has a US-hosting-presence so is absolutely in danger if they continue to allow it to be hosted on their servers), and a random publicity-seeking idiot from the organisation has been arrested (voluntarily) on unrelated charges which will have to be proven in court, from a country that's subject to EU law with regards to extraditing people.

    I actually think there's been a huge amount of restraint in dealing with this and that, actually, there's not much to react over. The UK police even sent his arrest warrant back several times because it wasn't filed 100% correctly. Now it has, they have arrested someone who INFORMED the police deliberately of where he is in case he needed to be arrested. The banks and card companies, and server hosts? That's their right. If you're found dealing drugs online, they will seize or terminate your account. If you're found hosting an illegal porn site, they will seize or terminate your account. In some cases, if their T&C's say not to operate that kind of site using their services, they will terminate your account (e.g. almost every web host has a "no porn" policy, even if it's completely legal porn). Where's the difference? Where's the actual unfairness that's applying to Wikileaks that hasn't been applied to millions of other people in the past and will continue to be applied to millions of other people in the future?

    You can say what you like (within reason). But no company in the world has to sponsor your speech, or provide you with a free soapbox. And disseminating illegally-obtained confidential material and publishing it is very much a legal red area. Whether they can get a prosecution is a grey area but almost certainly it's illegal to do what was done. And for what? So we can find out that some people called the Korean leader some names, or that America was asking us about our anti-terrorism preparations. There was no huge piece of news that resulted from the leak - just diplomatic sundries, personal comments and a handful of "revelations" that weren't really that surprising to anyone with a brain. If you'd found evidence of, say, mass torture and illegal imprisonment, with government complicity, in a supposed democracy, without trial - that's news and I'd be defending your right to get that into the papers in as big a headline as possible. Instead we end up with "The oil-rich Niger Delta is a hotbed of corruption", that "China and US share a common frustration in dealing with Burma." and that "The IRA took advantage of the economic boom in the Irish Republic to diversify into the property market". Wow.

    1. DrXym


      "I'm not even sure *what* the grievance is so far, except possibly "We think you might eventually, possibly, take our ball away, mister". "

      Their grievance is that these companies acted in their obvious best interests and chose to cut off Wikileaks after a bit of pressure. Who'd have thought that multi billion dollar companies with numerous national and international governmental ties would act the way they did? Everybody.

      Of course it did provide the weak excuse some kiddies needed to launch an attack.

    2. Anonymous Coward

      "I'm not even sure *what* the grievance is so far"

      I doubt (m)any of the participants are actually grieving. They just want someone to throw stones at because throwing stones is fun when you're 12. They don't particularly care that they can't see the stones either. They'd be happy to lob one through an open window without looking and hope that it doesn't (does?) kill someone.

      If they really cared about the information they'd be wasting *their own* paper to print it out and distribute it by hand. They might even bother reading the cables themselves. I don't see much of that going on through.

      If this is an "infowar" then why is no one paying any attention to the information? It's more a case of "hey they covered up this information (maybe), so let's go crap in the post box because.... well we don't actually need a reason do we?"

      Same as the student protesters. No one is taking a stand and saying "I'm so pissed off that I'm going to sneak into the campus library and read the books for free". But everyone is saying "let's go down London and see if we can't smash some shit up". And if anyone sees us, we can talk a big game about 'our future'.

      NEWSFLASH ASSHOLE: Your future was decided long before you were born. Sod uni and graduate straight into McDonald's. You were hand reared for the role by corrupt corporate interests. Might as well accept it. 99% of all (ALL) jobs are shit, and they have your name on them, buddy. Nobody, and I mean nobody, cares about educating you. You think you can just spend £3k a year in some crap hole and get "all the education you'll ever need"? Maybe you need to reevaluate the importance of education in your life.

  10. Anonymous Coward


    I really do hope this is a joke.

    I'm not sure about the US, but any reasonable company I know in Europe has replaced their hardware faxes ages ago with FAX -> mail servers. So besides keeping an almost unused phone line busy, this is doing.. what ?

    It might be better to just set up calling scripts to their customer helplines, a text to speech generator, and see if they pass a real life Turing test.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    spamming the fax machine?

    what's new. Anyone who actually has access to a fax machine at work knows that 99.9% of all faxes are junk. That's why people put the fax directly above the shredder.

  12. Anonymous Coward

    Next phase in the cunning plan.

    So far we have, DDOS and now we have DDOF (Fax).

    "The time for talking is over. Now call it extreme if you like, but I propose we hit it hard and we hit it fast, with a major, and I mean major, DDOCP."

    I am willing to invest in a Carrier Pigeon to bring down the major corporations, who is with me ??

    I can guarantee within 6 months Amazons Carrier Pigeon order network will be non existent !!.

    1. david wilson

      @AC 13:17

      Surely you need to knock out the Telex network first?

  13. Eenymeeny


    Everyone knows that the proper way to demonstrate against big business, big finance or, indeed, the big society is to go and trash a few buildings and knock some royal's hat off.

    The Anonymous crowd should be kicking in the doors of Visa's offices at Sheldon Square, not pussyfooting around with fax machines.

    Much better chance of getting them behind bars, that way, too :=)

  14. Jeremy 2

    Simple solution.

    1) Place fax machine over the shredder.

    2) Remove bottom of shredder hopper. Place over plastic bag

    3) Sell as hamster bedding or something.

    4) Profit!

    1. Doug Glass

      You have ...

      ... a true corporate mentality. In the corporate world from which I came, the shredded material was in fact "randomized" and sold. I know a good portion of it was made into insulating material in similar fashion as used newspapers.

    2. Lee Dowling Silver badge


      I have a simpler solution:

      - Place Caller-ID of known fake callers on a block list on your telephony system, and block non-ID phone calls.

      - Tell Jane who deals with the Fax-to-email gateway emails to just delete anything that looks like junk.

      Saves paper, provides solid logs of all incoming calls and requires no more effort to deal with than a targeted spam attack.

      1. Tom 13

        For US companies you forgot

        Place junk fax in interoffice envelop to permanently hired company lawyer for inclusion in monthly illegal use of fax filing. There's always the chance you might hit somebody with deep pockets and be able to file the class action lawsuit against them.

  15. Steve Jones 2

    Ye Olde Worlde

    Fax? How very retro. What next, WikiLeaktards shooting carrier pigeons??

    1. Ed Deckard

      The *tard thing is old and not funny

      And this is a particularly egregious example.

  16. Tom Chiverton 1

    It's not the volume

    It's to get the cables into the hands of as many people as possible - thus if the US *does* try to make position of them a crime (even by a foreign national in a foreign country) it'll have to go after all of them or look (more) stupid...

  17. Winkypop Silver badge


    I remember the 1980's well.

    Rubix cubes

    Giant mobile phone 'bricks'

    Crap music

    Fax machines

    1. alien anthropologist
      Thumb Down


      > "I remember the 1980's well... Crap music"

      Don't tell me - your a boy band fanboi wearing a Bieber T-shirt...

      Only an idiot will not realise that the 80's turned out the best music since the 60's and that nothing since has come close to it.

      The 80's was about Rock, Alternative Roc, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Contemporary R&B, Hip Hop, Post Punk, New Wave, Techno, House, etc. - a decade where music artists pushed the boundaries to where they still are today.

      1. Charles 9

        Good With The Bad

        "The 80's was about Rock, Alternative Roc, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Contemporary R&B, Hip Hop, Post Punk, New Wave, Techno, House, etc. - a decade where music artists pushed the boundaries to where they still are today."

        True, but many would say there was still some noticeably crap music in that age, too. Some people will cringe at the mention of Eurhythmics, for example. Or perhaps Wham!. Not arguing the 80's had some good music (such as Aerosmith hitting its prime around that time); just saying there were definitely some songs on the radio we'd sooner forget (if we could).

        1. david wilson

          @Charles 9

          >>"True, but many would say there was still some noticeably crap music in that age, too."

          A lot of 'pop' is ephemeral, or wasn't much good in the first place, but if you want to define a decade by the worst music, what decade actually comes out well?

          There was all kinds of awful stuff in the 60s, it's just that its survival has been more limited and/or it's been forgotten more comprehensively than things from later times.

      2. Winkypop Silver badge

        @alien anthropologist

        "The 80's was about Rock, Alternative Roc, Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Contemporary R&B, Hip Hop, Post Punk, New Wave, Techno, House, etc."

        Hmmm, I rest my case.

        PS: Who is "Bieber", no seriously?

  18. Matt Hawkins


    "Is there an alternative which equals or betters fax machines for each of those three points?"

    Yes its called email.

    It's quick - fill in (online!) order form,

    All you need is the email address - no usernames or passwords

    Confirmation - it says "sent" whether it was sent or not

  19. filo

    Wax on Fax off

    Faxes are still used for signed documents. You sign it you fax it, simple as that. Mostly used by legal / finance bods so they will probably charging overtime.

  20. The main man

    This is getting old

    Soon they will be sabotaging the car brake of the executives who cut funding from wikileaks.. next

  21. Tom 38

    @Lee Dowling

    Matey, when your comment is longer than the original article, you've gone too far. Just a hint.

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: @Lee Dowling

      I thought it was an interesting response. That's the point of being interactive. Your response is valid inasmuch that it represents your feelings, but not some universal truth. It's a preference. Just an observation.

  22. Donald Atkinson

    In the USA at least...

    Doctors still use fax machines to move medical records. The test results from that X-ray or other lab work is quite often faxed. Many medical reports are still hand written and they get faxed, day in and day out. My fax machine is one digit off from that of the oncology group here, I get spammed with people's medical records at a truly alarming rate. Great things those records, they have the individual's name, address, date of birth, social security number, phone number, blood type...

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Have to store the faxes

    Some laws require that the faxes be stored for 7 years so you can't delete, shred or burn them. There are also enough places doing this digitally that it can tie up banks of T1 lines if their PABX isn't configured right and I'm sure a few people are hitting all the numbers in the number blocks.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Don't fax, phone.

    Call the companies investor relations, public relations and voice your displeasure with their policies, don't be rude or swear or otherwise give them a reason to hang up...

    When that fails, call the customer service #'s to place an order or ask questions about a product for as long as you can, then decide after all that time "you really didn't need those item(s) after all."

    When their wait queues go from 15 mins to 15 hours they will notice. Human resources are many times more expensive than webservers/faxes, hence why call center jobs have gone to Asia.

    With this being the Christmas shopping season I could imagine someone needing to call many companies every day to find those perfect gifts.

    Paris - because she is into customer service =)

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: Don't fax, phone.

      I'll invoice you for it!

  25. A handle is required

    Am I the only one,

    who is tired of hearing about these "Anonymous" self-righteous twits?

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