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Fashion show sparks over 70 DDoS attacks in Australia

Multiple Muslim hacktivists have targeted Australian infrastructure and private organisations following a controversial fashion show, according to Radware.

The show by the Australian Fashion label ‘Not A Man’s Dream’ caused a shockwave across the Muslim community after a dress featured the phrase ‘Allah walks with me’ in Arabic lettering inscribed on the fabric, with what some perceived to be a nod to the Islamic headscarf or Hijab.

The controversial show went viral online and eventually reached the eyes of numerous hacktivist crews, including Team insane pk, Eagle Cyber and Mysterious Team. 

Another group, CsCrew, posted a message about the fashion show incident with a threat to Australia on the social messaging app Telegram, which was then forwarded to the Team insane pK Telegram channel.

Team insane pk then posted a message on its Telegram channel with a list of alleged logins to Australian education sites to be leveraged for attacks under the battle tag #OpAustralia.

This message was then forwarded to groups Mysterious Silent Force and Mysterious Team Bangladesh, who called for every Muslim hacktivist, activist and journalist to participate in the attack.

Over the next three days, ‘Not a Man’s Dream’ was targeted with DDoS attacks, and over 70 Australian sites were attacked, including Australian Government websites, Banks and Ports.

This attack has shown how well-connected Muslim hacktivists are and how large their circle of influence is. Moreover, many of the involved hacktivist groups are running multiple concurrent operations, with #OpIndia being a recurring tag.

This attack is another example of an attack motivated by religion, something that is less common in other parts of the world where political motivations drive them.

A key objective of hacktivists is to receive attention and spread their message. This is either through public websites or by making them unavailable through DDoS attacks. A prominent example of DDoS attacks being recently used is the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Here, DDoS attacks have been democratised, making them more accessible while improving existing tools to make them more sophisticated and powerful.

There’s also a good number of supporting services such as free and paying anonymous proxy providers and providers of pay-and-go DDoS-for-hire services like Clearnet booter and stresser services.

DDoS attacks have always been an important strategy of hacktivist groups, and it does not look to be altering any time soon. The rapid escalation of these responses is becoming ever more apparent. 

As a reminder, these attacks were in response to a fashion show, and once the dust had settled, governments, ports, banks and other smaller businesses paid the price.

While the attacks have subsided, organisations need to be better prepared to deal with the continued cybersecurity risks that continue to increase in both prevalence and scale.

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