Friday, March 16, 2012
Who Is Anonymous and Why ?
There has been a flurry of activity from online hackers in the past year or so. Beginning with WikiLeaks and ongoing to the latest attacks. Since the [somewhat questionable] destruction and removal of any legitimate or organized form of movement (ala Julian Assange) these new activities are undertaken by a seeming loose association of individuals who hack together on certain projects - they go by the name Anonymous. So who the devil are these people and what have they achieved ? Well, here in Canada one of their main achievements has been to attract the interest of our law and order types; their answer LEGISLATE. Bill C-30 squarely pegged those with a desire to control their online privacy, disgusting abusers of the most vulnerable in our society (ask vic who I mean) and militant cyber terrorists against anyone who has nothing to hide and loves the country.
Seldom in our brief history as a nation has any politician been so stupid as to utter something so intentionally polarizing. His zeal and the legitimacy of his argument as it pertains to the cyber breaches in recent history (there was nothing else but the title of the bill that dealt directly with predation) have been both created and reenforced by Anonymous. And what were they even trying to do ?
Most people don't really know much about computers. I do. Let me tell you that the only thing that protects our society from hacker attacks is the hackers themselves. See most hackers are geeks, relatively normal people who love star trek, staying up late and the 'sure thing' the internet keeps in its dirty back pocket (which is its #1 function around the world). Hackers, even with my level of skill (and there are a few who are much better than I) could commit coordinated DOS attacks at any site they desired.A DOS attack is a denial of service. These have been mainstays of the Anonymous tactics against the system. A denial of service attack simply means that any site, say companyX has a limit of how many customer requests it can handle through its servers in any given time. A DOS attack is just a user who hoggs the line, as it were. Through rapid and repeated use, they max out the servers ability to answer requests. So then average joe goes to check his account with companyX, can't get to it and feels insecure because he doesn't know what is happening or why. When answers do come out, they are attributed to a shady group of hackers bent on stealing your credit card numbers and this type of story. Honestly if hackers wanted your info, they'd have it, you would never know until it was too late and 9/10 times if this happens it is because of a personal offence against the hacker, they do not usually engage in militant groups. Sure they have morals and ideals, but they are often not willing to be immediately rendered a maximum threat to society. See, if any hacker ever really performed a righteous hack there is no way to escape persecution from the authorities. IP lines can always be hacked, computers have ID built in them... a hacker would need to open a brand new computer, use it on a secure line, perform the hack (which would quickly be terminated at the source) and move out while leaving no trace of who they were. If someone even did perform this sort of minimal attack they would be hunted severely, once caught they would be fined into total poverty, they would be imprisoned until they didn't know how the computers worked anymore, their families would be disgraced.... their lives would be totally ruined. This was and is the ongoing fate of Lulsec, a group which performed relatively minor attacks as a coordinated group. Their former leader is now working FOR the authorities in an effort to track the rest down. Hacker groups do not last without massive funding, top notch talent and equipment, and ongoing support from authoritiesin one form or another. There is no other way or incentive to do it. Shutting down companyX or the CIA or whatever for 2hrs hardly changes the world at all, it serves NO purpose what so ever from the hackers point of view. Is some foolish notion of pride worth your life?
So if I do not think that common hackers are responsible for this, who is it then ? Well for my money it is the very authorities and security companies that profit and have interests in these results. The breaches are not even important anymore. Hack attacks can be threatening but the real danger lay in the propogation of more and more laws designed to infringe our natural rights to privacy, our own anonymity is at stake. It doesn't mean that I demand privacy so that I can do illegal deeds, its not a request for privacy, its a RIGHT. So unless anyonomus destroys a valuable data system (like the one they've been building for dozens of years with billions of dollars to figure out the cure for cancer,lol) or my house catches on fire over it, I am not likely to willingly give up all my online rights. I have never understood why an email is not treated like regular mail. NO ONE, not even the police without very special permissions can infringe on a persons right to privacy by postal courier but email is the legal equivalent of writing your private correspondance on a bathroom stall. Anyone who happens upon it for any reason or in any way is allowed a peek at some of your most private thoughts and ramblings. Regardless though, by the very nature of using a non governmental 3rd party for communications some measure of privacy or anonymity is lost.The postal services of the world enshrined their rights to privacy often in conjunction with their right to freely communicate. Both rights are delicately and permannently intertwined. So by giving up privacy we are also degrading freedom of speech, assembly and thought. The loss of privacy in this regard would be unthinkable to the generation that fought against fascism so recetly ago.
But I digress, my main points here have already been ralised. Without coordinated support including vast funds, technical expertiese, support (be it official, unofficial, covert, etc) from authorities - any sort of hacker group would be short lived indeed. Secondly, the most elite ofo hackers are not the type to be in a group, certainly not a hacking group... do people out there really think hackers meet up at a timmies and discuss the upcomming DOS attacks, or do they chat online using these words and threads without expectation of capture? Either is preposterous when we think of the realityof the thing. Association revokes anonymity, the idea of a group called Anonymous itself is oxymoronical, contrary to reality and very unlikely to survive past one or two attacks without very delicate protection. At the end of the day we need to really consider the gains as well. While Anonymous has succeeded in getting themselves on teh air (think if a real threatening hack attack against the CIA would ever see the light of FOX) agitating legislatures who have speedily and hastily reacted to curb this growing threat, and somehow making us feel a little less safe in the world - as far as feats they have only succeeeded in bringing down a few websites of minor signifigance for limited times... no lasting change, no critical releases of documents that have led to charges or changes... nothing.So even if anonymous is real, whats the deal? I think even the genuine hackers in the group are working away for federal plants... they themselves are being monitored all the time and as soon as the agenda warrants the plug will be pulled and a massive group of all the innocent hackers working for some political ideal - will be strung up and destroyed to restore public confidence. Then all Anonymous people will be gone, once and for all. You'll know the season by the signs.