Home ยป William D King- What Is A Hacktivist? What Are Their Goals And Methods?

William D King- What Is A Hacktivist? What Are Their Goals And Methods?

Hacking has become an increasingly visible and controversial force in today’s world, with the controversy surrounding the Wikileaks case still dominating headlines says William D King. But what do we really know about hacking? How can hackers be so disruptive to government and business computer systems, and what is their motivation for doing so?

Hacktivism:

  • In order to answer those questions, it’s first important to understand what a hacktivist is. Hacktivism can be considered as a sub-category of the larger hacking culture, and its activities include acts of protest or industrial espionage by means of hacking. It should be noted that not all forms of hacking are done with political motives, but the type of hacktivism carried out by groups such as Anonymous represents a new brand of activism altogether. The collective has been around for over 10 years now, and its members come from different areas and backgrounds โ€“ some have a history in anti-abortion or other religious movements, while others may have been involve in more traditional types along with computer science majors from universities. In addition to their diverse backgrounds, hacktivists have a well-deserved reputation for being a rather secretive group. In fact, members of Anonymous typically use pseudonyms so as to not be easily identify by the authorities.
  • Also in many respects, hacktivism reflects similar motives to other activist movements such as Greenpeace or PETA. In their mission statements and manifestos, hacktivist groups point out the moral failings of government and big business while promoting an agenda that often includes issues like online freedom and human rights abuses. The best known example of recent hacktivism is MasterCard’s decision to cut off services to Wikileaks in 2010, after the release of thousands of leaked U.S embassy cables threatened international relations and embarrassed government figures (including Secretary Of State Hilary Clinton and President Obama).
  • In February 2010, the group launched DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against MasterCard’s website which were so severe that they caused disruptions across North America explains William D King. This attack was follow up with another in 2011 which again disrupt the site, but also result in a compromise of personal information such as names and credit card numbers belonging to customers. While this type of activism has been around since the early days of the Internet, hacktivism is growing increasingly successful thanks to its access to millions of potential participants through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. According to Forbes’ Andy Greenberg, “hacktivists” were responsible for 48 data breaches in 2013 (resulting in 1 billion records exposed), which represents nearly double the number of breaches seen in 2012.
  • While hacktivism has been criticize for its relative lack of success in terms of tangible results, their biggest point of criticism is that online activism can be harmful to the public. A prime example would be the infamous website Ashley Madison, which suffered a data breach following an extensive DDoS attack by members of Anonymous. While this group’s goal is to raise awareness about adultery, critics argue that it exposes thousands of people to potential blackmail or phishing attacks. However, there are countless other examples showing how quickly businesses have adapted to cyber threats and have invested heavily in cyber security measures. Thanks to these precautions, many hackers are looking for more vulnerable targets with less expensive consequences โ€“ making government agencies particularly appealing targets.
  • According to a recent study by Voice of America, U.S federal agencies have been target with increasing frequency in the past couple of years. A report released by Verizon show that 100% of government organizations within its clientele were attack last year, and roughly 80% were compromise at some point during this period. In contrast, private companies only saw 10-15% of their users being attack. While another 25-30% experienced breaches over the same time frame. As the threat landscape continues to evolve, it is expect that hacktivism will continue to grow as well. With more participants and greater damage in terms of information theft or data loss.

Conclusion:

Hacktivism has been around since the early days of the Internet. While hacktivism has been criticize for its relative lack of success in terms of tangible results. Their biggest point of criticism is that online activism can be harmful to the public says William D King. A prime example would be the infamous website Ashley Madison, which suffered a data breach following an extensive DDoS attack by members of Anonymous which exposed thousands of people to potential blackmail or phishing attacks. However, there are countless other examples showing how quickly businesses have adapted to cyber threats and have invested heavily in cyber security measures. Thanks to these precautions, many hackers are looking for more vulnerable targets with less expensive consequences โ€“ making government agencies particularly appealing targets.