Hacktivism is a term that we have started to hear more often in the news and otherwise. A concept which Generation Z has grown up with, Hacktivism is using computers and computer networks to promote or tarnish a political message.
In the past couple years multiple groups have been formed that use hacking as a way to promote their messages. Groups like Anonymous and Lulzsec have garnered tons of media attention for taking down websites, leaking private information, stealing passwords, and all other manner of things.
The major groups behind hacktivism are/ were Lulzsec and Anonymous. Lulzsec who at it’s peak had 11 members successfully took down the CIA’s website, stole Sony members accounts information, they leaked the X-factor database and altered Fox News employees LinkedIn accounts (they did that because Fox News said that the rapper Common was vile on air).
Anonymous was founded in 2004 and made up of a large group, whose size fluctuated over time. Anonymous was responsible for countless hacks and online attacks such as, attacking Amazon, PayPal, Visa, and EveryDNS for denying donations to Wikileaks and denying web hosting. They helped protesters in Tunisia by creating scripts to protect online communication and defacing the governments website replacing it with an message from them.
Some of these hacktivist attacks are seen as counter productive and unhelpful. Lulzsec had the tagline “laughing at your security since 2011” and would often deface websites simply because they could and not for a particular reason.
Anonymous and Lulzsec have continued to act even after many of their members were arrested because anyone can create a video and claim to be part of Anonymous and therefore no one truly knows the size of the group. The members that have been caught have been from across the world, some based in the UK, France, Canada, and the United States.
The latest Anonymous attack in Ferguson shows that this group is alive and well. After the shooting of Mike Brown and police brutality towards demonstrators Anonymous decided to stage operation Ferguson where they took down the city website, shut down all city emails, and stalked the mayor. The operation has slowed down but there are warnings that they will attack the city again.
In our online world running a business can sometimes be frightening, social media has affected customer service in massive ways and hacktivism has shown us the danger of irritating the wrong people. Therefore businesses need to be prepared, digital security should be a priority of every campaign you conduct, also be very careful if you decide to take sides on an issue. You don’t want to end up with a picture of a meme as your website and you definitely don’t want any data leaked. Marketers need to make sure digital security is strong and that your customer service is top notch.