Why DDoS Is a Bad Idea For Iran

In the days since the elections in Iran, protests have been widespread.  The opposition has been united against the Government of Iran for its fraudulant handling of the elections.  One of the ways in which the government of Ahmedinejad is attempting to quash the resistance movement is by restricting their ability to pass information back and forth amongst themselves as well as out of the country to the rest of the world.  The government killed cell service and SMS networks until they realized they could track dissidents using this technology.  They’re blocking sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube so that information can’t be easily shared.

Sources around the world are trying to turn the tables on the government of Iran by interfering with the technologies that allow them to hunt protestors.  One of the methods being used is referred to as a DDoS attack. DDoS is Distributed Denial of Service.  Scripts and other means are employed to drive so much bogus traffic (usually just millions of random page requests) into their networks, that they actually cause the networks to fail because of the saturation.

DDoS Attack Diagram

This technique works, but it tends to degrade the entire system, hurting the resistance as well.  The Iranian government has so effectively throttled all Internet communications, that it’s very difficult for the protestors to have enough bandwidth to transmit news to the outside world.  Those who engage in DDoS attacks are crippling what little bandwidth is left, thus hurting our cause. A friend posted a very well-written blog post about some of the specific reasons that DDoS dosn’t help our cause. Quite the contrary, it hurts us.  The article is called “DDoS attacks against targets inside Iran damage the opposition.”

Someone in Europe innocently created an auto-pagereboot script so that he could watch sports scores without having to refresh manually. Others learned of this and began using this for the same purpose.  This is a form of DDoS and, again, it hurts the opposition as much as the government and should NOT be used.

Anyone who really wants to help the Iranian opposition should consider setting up a Tor relay or bridge.  These are effective ways of allowing opposition folks get the message out without fear of being tracked.  If you’re interested and aren’t sure how to do it, follow the link below for the program and instructions on how to use it.

http://anonygreen.wordpress.com/2009/06/18/how-to-setup-a-tor-relay-or-tor-bridge/

If you set up a relay, you’re essentially making the entire Tor network more robust and difficult to track or break.  Once set up, there’s nothing more you need to do.  If you set up a bridge, you’re essentially creating an entrance point to the network for resistence people.  Once your bridge is set up, you’ll have to share the IP address and bridge address with the people who will use it.  If you’re not sure where to send this information, please contact me and I can get your information into the hands of those who need it.

Please, help us be a positive force in this movement and not inadvertently shoot ourselves in the foot.

Iran Election Protest offers to assist

Anyone interested in helping the people of Iran with their communications difficulties can check the following links:

http://reunifygally.wordpress.com/2009/06/17/help-iran/
http://www.boingboing.net/2009/06/16/cyberwar-guide-for-i.html

Specifically, if you have Tor and wish to share your bridge, or if you’re interested in setting up a bridge to help out, please check this link: http://iansbrain.com/2009/06/15/tor-and-the-iranian-election/

Jackson vs. Michigan smacked down by Montejo v. Louisiana

A friend drew my attention to the fact that the Obama administration is urging the supreme court to overturn Jackson vs. Michigan.  I’m clearly missing some perspective on this because I don’t see the problem, but here’s what I know.

The 6th Amendment to the Constitution asserts that a defendent has a right to counsel. He may choose to represent himself or provide his own counsel if he has the resources to do so.  He’s entitled to public defense if he does not.  The Govt. can only deny these rights if it’s determined that the defendant is “incapable adequately of making his own defense because of ignorance, feeble mindedness, illiteracy, or the like, it is the duty of the court, whether requested or not, to assign counsel for him.”  So, in otherwords, if you want an attorney, you get one.

Michigan vs. Jackson appears to reiterate the same basic assertion as the 6th amendment.  The only difference that I can see is that it spells out the fact that if a defendant has requested counsel, they have a right to such counsel and may not be questioned without counsel under any circumstances unless the defendant has initiated the conversation on his or her own.  Essentially, you have a right to counsel and they can’t deny that.

The Obama Administration was pushing to overturn Michigan vs. Jackson, citing that it was simply “no longer necessary to protect the rights of suspects in police custody,” and that “the ruling is not needed “given the purposes of the Sixth Amendment and the existence of other strong protections against coercion.””  Now, I don’t know what “other strong protections” the Govt. brief is referring to here, but so far, I don’t see this court ruling providing any substantial clarification over what the 6th amendment already provides.

It seems that the Obama Administration has gotten its way as the ruling has, in fact, been overturned.  There’s an editorial by Jonathan Turley, a professor of constitutional law, which seems to attempt to clarify why he believes that Jackson vs. Michigan was an important ruling that should not have been overturned.  His main argument is that Jackson is intertwined with cases related to the 5th Amendment, which address the Miranda rights of the accused.  However, these two amendments are intended to provide separate protections and one doesn’t completely cover for the other.

So, why did Obama do this and why is it a big deal? I guess I’m not well versed enough to answer those questions.  The underlying question is whether Jackson vs. Michigan provided some critical protection that is not available anywhere else.  From what I know, the 5th and 6th amendments, combined, offer all the protections that should be guaranteed under the law.  I don’t know what this ruling contributes to the amendments, so I can’t speak to whether or not it’s necessary.

If it’s an old, outmoded ruling, then there’s no harm in killing it off in this way and I don’t understand why everyone’s up in arms over it.  If, on the other hand, it provided a valuable fix to an otherwise incomplete or inaccurate 5th and 6th amendment, then why would Obama want to kill it. What does he gain from it? What is the flexibility he hopes to gain from the repeal of the case, and is it worth it to risk the rights of the accused.

I welcome your comments. It’s your chance to educate me if I’m missing some glaringly obvious point.