The Anonymous is a decentralized group of global activist hackers that over the past few years has been associated with high-profile cyber crimes such as internet attacks on big businesses, governments, religious organizations, and financial institutions. The association gained nationwide attention in 2008 when its members hacked the website of the Church of Scientology. The intention of the group was to overwhelm the computer servers of the Church and cause a shutdown. The Anonymous Group has received a lot of support from many individuals worldwide, but most of its members have been arrested and charged on several occasions with computer hacking, cyber- stalking, and fraud.
According to recent research, the Anonymous movement is quite bigger than many had anticipated. The group has become very popular worldwide due to its activities that fight oppression. In an era where there is an increase in cases of government abuse of the general public, similar groups have cropped up in many parts of the world (Broadhurst et al., 2014).
Who is Anonymous?
Anonymous is an unstructured international group of individuals that allows membership for anyone who has an intention of using the brand name to speak out their cause. The group was formed in the year 2003 and since then their activities have gained a lot of popularity from the general public as they act on public interest. It is adopted by anyone from all over the world who has interest, for instance, in leaking sensitive information from the government or other institutions that are against a set of ethics. The individuals may be willing to expose corruption by government officials or a conspiracy theory by high profile people. No particular person has even the slightest control over the brand, and the movement has no real- world manifestation.
Members of the Movement
Individuals that associate themselves with the Anonymous Movement include; men, women, the old, the young, Democrats, Republicans, including all persons from distinct races and nationalities. In demonstrations, the protesters wear Guy Fawkes masks to conceal their identity. Membership is free to any individual who wishes to join. Anonymous has been described as a movement that anyone can be part of regardless of their background, education, religion, and so forth (Broadhurst et al., 2014). It has been described as a group of people who do things collectively for different reasons.
The groups only have a few rules which include; keeping the identity of others secret, never discussing anything about the group, and never attacking the media. The most commonly used taglines by the group are "Expect us. We do not forget. We are Anonymous. We do not forget. We are Legion." The three of the primary characteristics of the group are; first, they have a distinct brand, second, an unremitting moral stand on matters concerning rights regardless of intimidation by organizations or the government, and lastly, a real outward show that is followed by online hacking activities. Most journalists face the challenge of reporting on the motivations and actions of the group because of its secrecy and fabrications.
What does the Movement want?
The group has no specific goals that can be pointed out and listed but the individuals in the group are motivated by the desire to combat suppression, counter government control, and above all promote the freedom of speech among people. The guiding principle of the group has been described as anti- oppression by the government and other high- ranking people. The association has no listed membership, committees, or newsletter (Yar, 2013). Due to the above, there are two critical pathways that individuals organize activities, and they include; first, using connections to reach out to other members. Secondly, a person with a suggestion can reach out to others and invite them to a particular chat group where they can discuss the idea in details.
Since members are open to different opinions and suggestions, they may choose to support your idea or opt no offer any assistance. Therefore, it means that not everyone that is associated with the group has to agree or agrees to each and every action undertaken in the name of the movement. Some people may get upset by others are trying to pass while others agree to it due their varying personal perceptive. Though the group is well established in the United States, there are members from other countries who also have the intention of fighting oppression.
How does the team carry out its hacks?
The association is very enthusiastic when going after its target institution or government. Past experiences have seen the movement linked with the crashing of web servers, leaking of hacked data, and website defacement. For example, in 2011, an ABC News report linked the group with a leak from the HPGary computer security company and its chief executive officer on the claims that the firm intended to release information to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about members of the group (Yar, 2013). The movement hacked the website of the enterprise, posted a note on the site, downloaded numerous emails and then took control of the Twitter account of the CEO.
Anonymous uses its tech- savvy abilities to support its causes. They use sophisticated IT systems and computer networks to advocate for human rights and promote freedom of speech. The group has been credited with bringing a new way of protesting where individuals do not have to go to the streets to demonstrate. The members are highly trained on information technology such that can hack almost every system in the world (Broadhurst et al., 2014). Due to this, the group has been considered to be a potential national security threat. What if they hack and disable some parts of the National power grid? Concerns have been raised regarding the cause of the movement. However, most of their activities have proved to be productive. For instance, the DDoS attacks where Anonymous protested against Piracy Act of 2012. Another good example is when the group hacked and removed sites that were displaying children pornography. Though it's the role of the authorities to close such online sites, the team protects the moral principles of the society.
Psychological Constructs and the thought process of Hackers
Understanding the techniques and skills of a hacker or a cyber- criminal can only be achieved through carrying out psychological analysis of their behaviors. To understand these individuals, thorough studies are done on the methods and actions that are used in a cyber-attack. Comprehensive monitoring of information gathered can be used to create the profile of the hacker. These techniques if applied in the right way can also be used to predict future cyber- crimes by particular individuals (Yar, 2013). Behavioral analysis techniques can be used to create a new way of understanding the complex network of hackers. The process starts by establishing the threat first which will lead to determining the motives in play. Factors such as skills, persistence, greed, and stealth are among the things that can define the hackers motivation.
How would the society view future attacks by Anonymous?
The activities of the movement are illegal even though its intention is to improve the lives of others by protecting their rights and promoting freedom. Most of the individuals who feel like the government oppress them will support the attacks by the group. They will support anything that will make their lives better.
Impacts of Anonymous in the U.S.Societal Impacts
The Anonymous movement has had numerous effects on the social and economic status of the country. In the year 2010 (December), the group launched an online attack using the name "Operation Payback" that was against MasterCard, PayPal, and Visa. The incident paralyzed the services of the three companies' for a short duration; this prevented their customers from having access to online banking services (Yar, 2013). The activity significantly affected the economy of the country, many activities in the country stopped while the three named firms lost millions of dollars within a short time. The group undertook the actions due to the three companies' involvement with WikiLeaks. Though many people were later arrested after being linked with the move, new attacks were still hitting the corporate institutions, military, and the government agencies.
Recent moves by the same group have resulted in massive losses by the government and private corporations. Some multinational organizations and law enforcement agencies have also been victims of the activities of the movement. The group has been involved in the release of private data such the emails that were leaked from the department of foreign affairs (Cashell et al., 2004). The result of the above has been the stall of international relationship with other countries and limiting bilateral talks between the affected countries. One of the reasons online attacks are regarded illegal is because of such incidents which have always resulted in devastating consequences for the government and individuals at large.
Another notable example was in 2010 when a teenager published the Sony private key online which allowed millions of people to have access to online games registered under the Company. Later, the company still suffered again when credit card numbers of around 12 million of their customers were exposed. The company has recorded approximately $173 million in losses from cyber-attacks which also include legal costs, incentives, and customer protection services (Musman et al., 2010). Due to this, the company has undertaken necessary measures that are aimed at cutting the cost of production such as retrenchment of workers over the years. Individuals who must make public presence regularly are more susceptible to attack. Their personal information on finances and the ties they have with big corporations are always at risk of being leaked.
The movement has illustrated how fragile most enterprises, security industry, and government today are due to the threat of any information regarding their financial operations can be easily leaked online. The relationship between these organizations and their customers is always disturbed as most of the data that is leaked is private and confidential (Cashell et al., 2004). Some consumers will probably seek other more secure online services if they believe the security systems of their service providers are not sufficient to protect their personal data from hackers.
On the other hand, Anonymous activities on exposing information on illegal dealings by private companies or high- ranking individuals in the government may help reduce corruption. Individuals and organizations with high ranks are highly concerned whenever they are given a particular project to oversee (Musman et al., 2010). A little misuse of the money budgeted for the projected will result to public scrutiny, and this is where Anonymous comes in and leaks information revealing how every penny was spent. The movement has acted as the public watchdog which promotes the accountable and transparent use of public funds.
Exposing of data especially one that is politically motivated has led to revolutions in some countries. Researchers have suggested that Anonymous need to be taken seriously as far as politics go. The impact the movement has on policy matters lies on the strategies and tools that are used such as video editing, hacking, decentralized organization, and identity making. Many argue that the group is sponsored by a class of a few privileged people whose interests are centered towards personal economic gains (Cashell et al., 2004). Evidence of the Anonymous involvement in political awakening includes; the WikiLeaks and the Pirate Part...
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