The hackivist group Anonymous is described by Wikipedia as “an international hacking group, spread through the Internet, initiating active civil disobedience, while attempting to maintain anonymity”.
Recently, they have been attributed as the source of denial of service attacks against the Oregon Tea Party, Sony, and the Irish political party Fine Gael. They have also employed attacks against the governments of Australia, Egypt, and Libya.
The group has also provided websites and support for social-political efforts like Occupy Wall Street, the Green Party movement in Iran, and the Arab Spring efforts in Egypt and Syria. Additionally, Anonymous recently took down 40 child porn websites and published the names of 1500 people who often visited the illegal websites.
In October, parts of Anonymous have taken on the Los Zetas drug cartel in Mexico. The drug cartel had kidnapped a member of Anonymous. In response, Anonymous has threatened to release the names of police and political officials who are illegally collaborating with the Los Zetas drug cartel. We will see how Anonymous fairs in this battle since more is at stake than just lawsuits and prison time. Los Zetas has been known to kill whistle-blowers and hacktivists in the past.
So what role do you see hacktivists playing in society? Do they act as modern-day Robin Hoods to correct social injustices, or are they disruptive elements like Tyler Durden in “Fight Club”?
In my readings about them, it looks to me like Anonymous is more of a brand that can be placed on a hacking attack. There does not appear to be any hierarchy or centralized managing authority, which makes it easy nearly anyone to say that they are part of the group. If a hacker attack is popular and successful, then the event is publicized. Case-in-point is the fact that parts of Anonymous were active both for and against the war in Libya. Anonymous members were also divided over the Westboro Baptist Church and its claim to free speech while protesting at military funerals.