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2 days ago, the FBI announced a series of raids resulting in arrests of alleged members of the hacking group ‘Anonymous’. Hoping to deal a critical blow to the organization, they swept up more than a few potential members, and a tidy stash of computers to boot. So we’re done with ‘Anonymous’, right? Today, we hear more news of a breach, this time from NATO, and guess who is taking credit?
In a blog when the news of the FBI raids broke, we wondered if the events were the first in a series of law enforcement initiatives that would eventually cripple ‘Anonymous’, a show of force for members more peripherally related to the group, or a swift blow to what will be conclusively proven to be its core members. Today we wonder the same thing. The larger question of the plight and trajectory of the emerging ‘hacktivist’ movement (if it can properly be called a movement) seems to also be in focus. These events may help define that trajectory.
In the days of yore, the hacker stories centered around bored teenagers with questionable social skills defacing computer targets of opportunity. Later, when e-commerce started to emerge, we saw hackers getting paid, and rather enjoying it. Now we see a breed emerging with some notoriety, the ‘hacktivist’ variety.
‘Hacktivists’ tend to focus on raising awareness to expose what they feel are ‘dirty deeds’ effected by some allegedly nasty organization, often government. Their payment seems to be notoriety, hopefully convincing the organization to “do the right thing”, and/or the public to notice and bring the force of popular opinion to bear on the situation. Whatever the outcome, this style of activity seems to be taking more of a center stage on the cyber scene. We will watch with interest how this particular group, with its ‘egalitarian’ aims, does following current and future law enforcement efforts to attempt to thwart its activities.
Author Cameron Camp, ESET