Hacktivist Group Anonymous

Context

  • As racial tensions in the US continue to make headlines, the ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous is back in focus with social media handles believed to be associated with it promising retribution for the death of George Floyd.

Who are the Anonymous?

  • The group has been described as a decentralised online collective with no particular political affiliation, that rallies around causes such as opposing censorship and government control and promoting freedom of speech.
  • In the past, it has expressed support for the Occupy movement and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks.
  • The worldwide group is believed to include anyone who wants to join; its members being referred to as anons’.

Attributes of the Group

  • A signature characteristic of Anonymous is the Guy Fawkes mask, portrayed in the dystopian novel and film ‘V for Vendetta’,in which an anarchist anti-hero wearing the mask fights against a fascist, white supremacist government.
  • Another attribute of the group is the use of voice changers or text-to-speech programmes that let anons mask their voice in video messages.
  • Anonymous does not use any verified social media handles, with multiple factions using portals such as the ‘AnonNews’ website and Twitter account for disseminating the group’s motives and campaigns.

Tactics used by Anonymous

  • Anonymous is known to primarily employ what is known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, in which hackers swamp a website’s server with data that causes it to crash, making the website inaccessible.
  • Another tactic that it uses is defacement– when the target website’s pages are replaced with the hacktivists’ messages and graphics.
  • A related method is redirection– in which a change in the chosen web site’s addressing causes its users to be redirected to another page.
  • The group also uses more serious methods such as doxing, in which private or sensitive information is stolen, destroying data using computer viruses, and “phishing” for extracting personal data.