When hacktivism enters in to discussions, the “Anonymous” group and “Occupy Movement” is often what comes to mind. While there are many groups and individuals who align themselves with this ideology and practice, the consistency amongst them is their intention and their purpose. On the Anonymous side, the global hacking community has been associated with taking down websites from mainstream media, stealing data from servers of financial institutions and compromising personal information from A-list celebrities.
Much like any activist group, mass inception and global identity and recognition doesn’t happen over night. Individuals aligning themselves to these causes and finding like-minded groups take time. Through their tenacity and perseverance, their popular following is expanding at a rapid pace.
To illustrate this point, look no further than the Twitter account of Anonymous. Their current following is upwards of 1.67 million people. While it should not be suggested that all of these individuals are fellow hackers or share in the same beliefs, one can safely assume that there are individuals who wish to stay so “dark” that they have no social media presence at all.
Any profile on any website starts with but a mere one follower. From there, the audience grows and with it, the amplification of their cause.
In the final days of 2016, Anonymous and an allied group named HackBack, set their sights on the Bildeberg Group. During this attack, the hackers gained access to their website. They placed an ominous warning to the members of what they called “the political elite”. They gave the membership 365 days to act for the common people or further hacking incidents would occur.
This is at least the second time this group has become prayed upon; The first coming in June of 2016, during their annual meeting. A DDoS attack rendered their website inaccessible to the delegation and the general public during that time.
Roughly 150 members of the Bildeberg Group attend this annual conference to discuss matters relating to politics, economy and of course, industry.
Not only have the number of devout followers increased rapidly over a short period of time for these groups, but they also have become more elaborate in their methodology and delivery. The advancement of technology and the ease of its access can be given partial credit to this.
Recent Hactivism Incidents
January 11th, 2017, an affiliate group of Anonymous announced publicly that they would commence occupying Guildhall Square in Ireland. The group provided the exact date, location and time of this movement…to bring attention to austerity through continuous and growing protests.
April of 2016, Gold Corp servers were illegally accessed and digital files were stolen. The information stolen from Gold Corp included employee personnel records, internal correspondence and external emails, budget reports and contact information of international associates.
In March of 2016, the website belonging to BCGold Corp was manipulated by hackers. The mainpage was replaced with a YouTube video of Rick Astley’s hit “Never Gonna Give You Up”. An Anonymous group calling themselves #OpCanary took responsibility for the attack.
This account has roughly 1700 followers and has posted as recently as September of 2016. The description in their bio speaks volumes of their previous actions and should give some insight in to what future plans they may have.
“Surveillance and military corporations are symptoms. Resource Corporations are the disease.”
Contrary to what their name may suggest, these groups have been quite open about their intentions.
The hackers took another step with the information. They compared portions of the data they had obtained through countless publicly accessible social media platforms, such as LinkedIn. The information from payroll, email correspondence and budget reports all became much more relevant when compared to social media posts. Again, this is the very same information that the individual employees chose to make public through social media.
There is a delicate balance between the utilizing social media for corporate branding and increasing the reach potential of an organization against the necessity to effectively safeguard physical and cyber security of the company and its employees.
The frequency of hacktivism activities will continue. Being mindful of these groups and their intentions will serve to anticipate actions taken against corporations and agencies. Continuously measuring and evaluating the security of companies, their partners and their employees will work effectively to limiting the risk of additional disruptions, liabilities and financial losses.