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Fan fiction site A03 brought down by Anonymous Sudan amidst allegations of Reddit DDoS assault

Hacktivist group Anonymous Sudan launches cyberattacks on websites to cause disruption.

The hacktivist group Anonymous Sudan has once again targeted a website with a distributed denial of service (DDoS) cyberattack, this time taking down the popular fan fiction site Archive of our Own (AO3). The group claims that its actions are in response to the content featured on the site. AO3, which hosts over 11 million works of fan fiction across various fandoms, confirmed that it had suffered a DDoS attack on Monday. There is currently no update on when the site will be restored.

Anonymous Sudan, which presents itself as an Islamist terrorist gang, stated that it attacked AO3 because it is against "all forms of degeneracy" and claims that the site contains "disgusting smuts and other LGBTQ+ and NSFW things." The group has also threatened to continue targeting the site if it comes back online, boasting about its ability to bypass detection and keep the site offline for an extended period.

However, security experts believe that Anonymous Sudan is not what it claims to be. Instead, they suspect that it is a Russian hacking gang posing as a splinter group of the original Anonymous hacktivist collective. The experts suggest that this impostor group is aiming to cause trouble for Russia's enemies in the West. AO3's administrators have expressed skepticism about the group's motivations and affiliation, cautioning against believing their reasoning for targeting the site.

According to cybersecurity researchers, the current iteration of Anonymous Sudan appears to be aligned with Russia, in contrast to the original group, which emerged during Sudan's political instability in 2019 and was anti-Russia. A report from security firm Flashpoint supports this theory, suggesting that Anonymous Sudan is likely a state-sponsored Russian actor masquerading as a Sudanese group with Islamist motivations.

The targets chosen by Anonymous Sudan so far align with an anti-US agenda. Last month, the group successfully launched a DDoS attack on Microsoft, temporarily taking down the company's Office 365 services. They also claimed to have stolen data from Microsoft, although the company denies this. Additionally, Anonymous Sudan has threatened to carry out DDoS attacks against European banks, the SWIFT payments system, and the US Federal Reserve, alongside two Russia-supporting groups, Killnet and REvil. However, no such attacks have been reported following these threats.

In their most recent attack, Anonymous Sudan targeted Reddit, successfully taking down the site and its subreddits for two hours. Tech Monitor has reached out to Reddit for comment on the claims made by the group.

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