Tech

Who is Anonymous? A look at the hacktivists aiding revolution in the Middle East

Castro said that Anonymous is a varied group and that its supporters include “fringe elements from across the ideological spectrum.  They are more the digital equivalent of an angry mob: fickle, unpredictable, and dangerous.”

“Not every target gets the full ‘wrath’ of Anonymous,” said Gardenslayer. Anonymous chose to DDoS PayPal, Visa, and MasterCard, overloading their websites, instead of hacking them which could have left their sites defaced or permanently damaged.

“We felt that, despite being cowardly in pulling away from WikiLeaks, they weren’t directly abusing their customers, and they didn’t deserve to be hacked,” Gardenslayer said. “We felt differently about the Tunisian government, however, and hacked/defaced their websites instead of DDoSing them.”

Various factors constitute an Anonymous operation.  If the group believes a target has “done something particularly corrupt or oppressive, or that it has gone too far with censorship, attacks are planned,” said Gardenslayer.

“We do not get paid in any way,” Gardenslayer said, asserting that Anonymous simply appreciates making a difference for the causes the group believes in.  “It’s just a shame the FBI doesn’t see our efforts in the same light. There are other things implied about US foreign policy when the government pursues Anonymous at the neglect of Tunisia’s plight because we’re interfering with their politics. Though, we’d hope for others to carry on that conversation.”

The group didn’t expect what they said has been a “globally positive reaction” from the Tunisian protestors, some of which held up Guy Fawkes masks to thank Anonymous for its involvement. The masks, used as a symbol of Anonymous, were popularized by the graphic novel and film “V for Vendetta” that dealt with a government takeover by its citizens.

Anonymous says that its actions support a freer world, “where governments don’t oppress their citizens and the internet is kept open for anyone that wishes to use it.” The group declares that it defends freedom of speech and information at all costs, saying, “There is no task too big for Anonymous, because we are everyone and we are no one.”

Up next for Anonymous is reportedly “Operation Iran,” which began earlier this month. In a short YouTube press release, Anonymous spoke to the Iranian people saying that the government “can’t kill your fighting spirit, they can’t kill your freedom. Know that we support you.”

One of their latest tweets suggests that the group has no intention of stopping what they are doing anytime soon:  “Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Algeria, China: Only the beginning. World Governments: Stop fighting and cooperate to employ freedom.”