For the last four years, a loose collective of hackers has been causing trouble all over the Internet, pissing off oppressive governments, religions, and corporate tycoons alike. They call themselves “Anonymous,” and in youtube appearances, they wear Guy Fawkes masks like the hero of Alan Moore’s classic anarchist comic book, V for Vendetta. Indeed, following the exploits of Anonymous feels somewhat like reading a comic book.
Anonymous’ mission is simple: to protect human rights and keep information free. Their “hacktivist” activities include cyber-attacks against the Church of Scientology, Egypt’s Ministry of Information, the Fine Gael Party of Ireland, the white supremacy websites of Hal Turner, the Zimbabwe Government, the (ex)-Tunisian Government, the Americans for Wealth website, and perhaps my favorite:
In February 2010, in response to the Australian Parliament’s motion to use internet censorship software to prevent its citizens from viewing some types of porn (namely, porn with female ejaculation and with small-breasted women), Anonymous launched ‘Operation Titstorm’ in which they defaced the Prime Minister’s homepage, crashed the parliament website, and spammed legislators with thousands of naughty pictures. A few hours before this occurred, the group sent an email to journalists, stating:
“No government should have the right to refuse its citizens access to information solely because they perceive it to be unwanted… The Australian government will learn that one does not mess with our porn. No one messes with our access to perfectly legal (or illegal) content for any reason.”
During Cablegate of December 2010, Anonymous declared solidarity with WikiLeaks. Then, when MasterCard and Visa blocked online donations to WikiLeaks, Anonymous retaliated by crashing their websites. The group also launched Operation Leakspin, which involves sorting through the 900,000+ leaked military documents on WikiLeaks and spreading important ones that may have been overlooked.
In the meantime, the FBI has been running around in circles trying to stop WikiLeaks and catch members of Anonymous. In February, Aaron Barr, a self-described “master of counter-hacking” from HBGary Security Firm, announced to the media that he could take WikiLeaks down and dismantle Anonymous. Barr threatened Anonymous by telling the Financial Times that he had obtained personal information on many of the group’s leaders, including their real names. Anonymous responded swiftly and thoroughly: They took down Barr’s website, stole his emails, deleted his company’s backup data, trashed his twitter account, and remotely wiped his i-pad.
“Ddos!!! Fckers,” Aaron sent from his iPhone as a DDoS attack hit his corporate network. (This and all 30,000 other messages Aaron Barr has ever sent via the web are available for immediate torrent on piratebay.com.)
Neither the FBI nor corporate security firms can stop Anonymous as they patrol the dark corners of cyberspace in the name of truth, justice, and information freedom.
Who are these masked marauders? Whoever you are, W3 CLUM51LY 50LUT3 Y0UR 1337 H4X0R 5K1LL5.