Generally, the most that the average person does online is check emails, read the news, spend some time on social media sites and have some fun playing at their favourite casino. But then there are those other types. The dark, mysterious hackers that hang out in blacked out rooms hammering away at keyboards and making incredible things happen. Groups like the widely known Anonymous, that are so cool and scary they may as well have been plucked straight from a 90’s film.
Though, if this is your perception of them, you’re wrong on almost every count. Take a look at these facts about the Anonymous group that may just drastically change your perception of who they are, and what they do.
An Unorganized Organization
An organisation implies a group that are, well, organised. Anonymous is not organised, has no leader, no rules of conduct, and no real set goal. In fact, there are likely multiple groups of people who all claim to be part of the Anonymous group, all with varying ideas on what is trying to be accomplished. The point is that it is not one group of people aiming for a specific goal in an organised fashion.
Anyone Can Be Anonymous
This is where you should really reconsider what the Anonymous group is. There is no gatekeeper, and essentially anyone can join. Anonymous has a reputation for trying to achieve apparently altruistic goals, but since anyone can join and there are no official rules, the goals are about as vague as possible. Anyone can apparently get in touch with Anonymous, which aspect of them no one knows, and help “their” cause.
Hacking Skills Not Required
We just said anyone could join. So, also think about what this means in terms of members having actual 90’s movie style hacking skills. Few. Or almost none. It is useful though for those who do have hacking skills to have coordinated access to multiple computers however. This is how a DDoS attack works. Which isn’t as complicated as you may think. It simply involves as many computers as possible sending information to a server at the same time. The server then crashes and the “attack” is successful.
How Participation Works
Word is that upon joining, members vote on which websites and servers to attack. Apparently each cause has its own separate group. Once a group decision is made on where to unleash wrath, rallied members coordinate to deliver DDoS attacks.
Using The Ion Cannon Is Dangerous
The software used to deliver DDoS attacks, downloaded and utilised by members, is called the low-orbit ion cannon (LOIC.) Using it is not overly complicated, but it is extremely dangerous. For you that is, less so for the target. In 2008 a series of attacks on the Church Of Scientology was mostly silly and childish, but many used the LOIC. Some of the attackers weren’t very savvy, and were traced. Brian Thomas Mettenbrink was tracked down, arrested and served a year in prison. He also paid a fine of $20,000 to the Church of Scientology.
Pirates Of The Information Age
Perhaps one of the most interesting series of events involving Anonymous unfolded in 2010. A company called Aiplex Software began using the LOIC to DDoS attack pirate websites that broke copyright laws, on behalf of entertainment companies. Anonymous targeted the company and attacked their servers relentlessly for months. In one attack they posted the words ‘Payback is a Bitch’ on the company homepage.
Another interesting event, also occurring in 2010, involved Anonymous attacking PayPal. This was after WikiLeaks had been deemed illegal, and government organisations convinced PayPal to stop dealing with the website. In response, Anonymous illegally took control remotely of thousands of computers in order to deliver a big enough DDoS attack to bring down PayPal. 14 hackers were arrested.
A small group of the most skilled hackers in Anonymous broke off and started to cause random chaos online, calling themselves LulzSec. The chaos was for no other reason than to laugh about it. Multiple pointless attacks caused distress to tens of thousands, such as posting account details of pornography sites. The action outraged other Anonymous members. This resulted in a so-called hacker war, pitting Anonymous members against one another.
The FBI arrested Hector Monsegur, a member of LulzSec. In an effort to stay out of prison he turned informant and began to feed information to the FBI. Later, the LulzSec group was transformed into an aggressive hacker group called AntiSec, under the direction of the FBI. Things get complicated here, as Hector Monsegur then claimed that the FBI directed the group to steal valuable information from servers around the world.
Testimonies by Monsegur are yet unconfirmed, but rumours say that the FBI had the information, including 30,000 credit card numbers, stolen as a means to frame Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks. After a complicated altercation involving backstabbing, deals gone wrong and double-crossing worthy of a film, the FBI abandoned its last chance to frame Assange and sent the members of AntiSec to prison. Keep in mind, this is unconfirmed information, but is still very interesting.