Conspiracy theories abound

The recent denial-of-service attacks against popular e-commerce sites have the Internet community up in arms and wondering who's behind it all.

A look at some unconventional explanations surfacing in the wake of the incidents reveals a growing suspicion that the government itself may be responsible for the attacks.

Some professionals in the information security and privacy industries are arguing that the attacks may be just the smoke screen the government needs to plant monitoring tools on private systems.

Wayne Madsen, a senior fellow with the Electronic Privacy Information Center, recently posted a discussion of the incidents on an online bulletin board, implying that the attacks may have been the result of a classified exercise by the National Security Agency or the Air Force Information Warfare Center.

Reminiscent of operation Eligible Receiver, in which the NSA conducted simulated exercises to gauge the vulnerability of the nation's critical infrastructure to cyberattacks, Madsen wrote, "Maybe [the FBI] need not look any further than Fort Meade or Kelly Air Force Base" for the source of the denial-of-service attacks.

Likewise, a respected Internet security analyst with a major domain registration firm wrote an article for the online security news digest SecurityFocus.com that cast doubt on the fidelity of the FBI's free software tool that can weed out the malicious code used in denial-of-service attacks.

"There are those conspiracy theorists that claim this entire week's activities were carried out by the FBI to cause public and congressional concern, thus paving the way for increasing yet again their law enforcement powers," the analyst wrote. "Conspiracy theory? Possibly, but it's not the first time the FBI has been known to warp or create a situation to further its own political agenda. Anyone remember the FBI's handling of the investigations of the [Communist Party USA] in the 1950s?"

Another security consultant wondered, "With all the recent cases of the FBI and NSA trying to pass legislation that will allow them to backdoor various communications systems, computer networks and everything else, how could anyone trust these?"

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