Power of the Internet: hackers target Westboro Baptist Church website, Twitter

December 21st, 2012

Hackers claiming to be associated with the internet activist group Anonymous have attacked the website belonging to the Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) and hacked into the Twitter account belonging to Shirley Phelps-Roper, the Church’s spokeswoman. The attacks are part of an operation dubbed ‘#OpWestBor’ on Twitter and is in response to the Church’s decision to picket funerals of victims of the December 14 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut.

“Westboro will picket Sandy Hook Elementary School to sing praise to God for the glory of his work in executing his judgment,” said Phelps in a post to her Twitter account on Saturday.

On Sunday, in a video posted on YouTube, Anonymous announced their intentions saying, “From the time you have received this message, our attack protocol has past been executed and your downfall is underway. Do not attempt to delude yourselves into thinking you can escape our reach, for we are everywhere, and all-seeing, in the same sense as God. … We will render you obsolete. We will destroy you. We are coming.” The Church’s website has been unreachable for most of the day. At the time of this report, the website was unreachable. As a result of the breach, Anonymous claims to have gained access to and leaked alleged personal information such as names, home addresses and telephone numbers belonging to Church members.

Also as part of the operation, early yesterday morning, a member of Anonymous called ‘CosmoTheGod’ hacked the Twitter account belonging to Phelps, posting a ‘tweet’ saying, “This account is now being ran by @CosmoTheGod #UGNazi #oops.” As of this report, Anonymous still has control of it.

This isn’t the first time hackers took control of the Church’s website. In 2011 the Church blamed Anonymous for circulating a letter claiming an attack on the Church’s website was imminent and blamed them for taking down their website in an earlier attack, something the group denied. Shortly after the incident, user “th3j3st3r” on Twitter claimed responsibility for circulating the letter and the initial attack. When Phelps and one of the group’s members were interviewed on live television shortly thereafter, she denied hackers could break into their website or take it offline. However; during the interview, Anonymous hacked into the Church’s website, defaced it and took it offline.

“I was just going to say in the time that Shirley was blabbing her religious preachings I actually did some business and I think if you check downloads.westborobaptistchurch right now you’ll see a nice message from Anonymous”, said Anonymous nine minutes into the interview.

On December 14, a gunman identified as 20 year-old Adam Lanza killed his mother Nancy then went into Sandy Hook Elementary school carrying a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle and two other handguns, where he opened fire killing 26 people, 20 of them children between the ages of five and ten years old. Shortly after the incident, Lanza shot himself, committing suicide.

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