Anonymous is a group of hackers who carry out computer actions to expose the secrets of states, governments and companies. They mobilize in favor of freedom of expression, information and communication and seek to promote change through protests and social movements.
Anonymous is an activist movement that started as a diversion but turned into a real manifestation on digital media. They are supported by many people around the world, due to the crimes and injustices committed in so many spheres and sectors of society. They have executed a number of recognized cyber and face-to-face attacks against target organizations, utilities, consortia, government systems, and other entities.
What is Anonymous and how did it come about?
Its name is intended to preserve the identity of the members, in addition to providing a shared identity on the network. This term is commonly used when users leave comments on the network without identifying themselves, and its use allows an activity without leaving hardly any traces.
The Anonymous group emerged in 2003 on the 4chan forum community, where users could post any type of content without identifying themselves. They added texts, images, photographs and comments on certain topics and shared a common purpose. After that, hackers using the pseudonym Anonymous do so on behalf of a community advocating for a joint cause.
One of the first scandals Anonymous promoted was that of WikiLeaks. Thousands of documents were leaked about the actions of private companies and governments like the United States in the war in Afghanistan and Iraq. The purpose was to show the reality and justify why the information needs to be released.
Over the years Anonymous has been gaining recognition, presence and support from the population, who see that their goal is, ultimately, to bring the truth to light and do justice.
How do Anonymous hackers operate?
Anonymous hackers organize on the web to find official and secret information that would be of interest to the general public. They also organize face-to-face events in various countries using Guy Fawkes masks and voice-distorting microphones.
Anonymous’ confidential information disclosure has been linked to websites such as 4chan, Futaba Channel, Encyclopædia Dramatica, WikiLeaks, as well as various chats.
Other cyberspaces that serve as action for Anonymous are social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. However, they play an almost insignificant role in them compared to the main websites. In social networks they train small groups of people to coordinate social mobilizations and physical protests in specific countries.
Anonymous’s actions are carried out through a collective movement without hierarchical structure and without any limitation of sex or age, so anyone can be behind the screen practicing digital activism.
Anonymous’s most famous attacks
Anonymous has carried out large-scale attacks in different countries of the world, being recognized internationally. These are some of the most prominent:
1. Chanology Project
After a compromising video of Tom Cruise talking about Scientology ideas that the Church of Scientology itself tried to remove from the internet, on January 21, 2008 Anonymous posted the video “Message to Scientology” on YouTube to denounce the actions of the Church. and to try to eject it from the Internet.
The operation sparked protests in various countries for several months on the grounds that church members were economically exploited and that the church itself was a cult sect.
2. Operation Avenge Assange
After WikiLeaks released US diplomatic secrets, pressure came from Amazon, PayPal, MasterCard and PostFinance. At the end of 2010, Anonymous started Operation Avenge Assange which consisted of carrying out DDoS attacks against these organizations.
This Operation Payback was against the ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) laws, copyright and intellectual property abuses, censorship and net neutrality.
3. Attacks against HBGary Federal
Aaron Barr, chief executive of the security agency HBGary Federal, infiltrated Anonymous to reveal important information. Anonymous instantly attacked the servers of both HBGary Federal and HBGary, Inc. and hacked all of their emails and Aaron Barr’s Twitter account, where they posted personal data, such as his address and social security number.
Thanks to this attack, it became known that HBGary Federal was planning an attack on WikiLeaks and that they would put pressure on one of the platform’s journalists.
4. Operation DarkNet
In 2011 Anonymous discovered in one of its DDoS attacks that 40 websites were uploading child pornography to the network. They published the names of 1,589 users who entered the clandestine pedophile community known as “Lolita City” and took it down, preventing access.
After various actions, six years later they extracted 50% of the information stored in Freedom Hosting, the server where most of the pornography on the Dark Web was hosted.
5. Operation Russia
Anonymous activists accessed emails from pro-Kremlin characters, from Vasily Yakemenko (head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs), from Kristina Potupchik (press secretary for the Nashi youth movement), and from Oleg Khorokhordin ( Deputy Head of the Department of Internal Affairs in the Presidential Administration).
They discovered that these characters paid hackers and trolls to attack websites that spoke ill of Vladimir Putin, in the same way that they made famous bloggers write content in favor of Vladimir Putin.
6. Attack on the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI)
Anonymous supported citizens protesting against electoral candidate Enrique Peña Nieto by hacking the websites of Mexico’s PRI on two occasions. They affirmed that an organization of infiltrators existed at all levels to force the vote for Enrique Peña Nieto.
After finding images of fraud in the 2012 elections, they decided to attack the website of the Secretary of National Defense (SEDENA), which kept videos of the protests.
7. Attacks against the Sinde Law
In the votes of the Sinde Law in 2010, the Anonymous group massively attacked the web pages of the Spanish Socialist Workers Party, the General Society
and Authors, the Congress of Deputies and the Ministry of Culture. The reason was that the Sinde Law promoted the closure of websites without legal authorization. Finally, said law would not be approved, since the Government of Spain decided to modify it.
8. Operation Sony
Sony legally accused the users “Geohot” and “Graf-Chokolo” of hacking the PS3 and leaking data. Lawsuits were issued that were later halted when Anonymous carried out DDos attacks on the websites of the company and the law firm Kilpatrick Townsend, representing Sony in their legal battle.
In defense of both users Anonymous hacked the information and Sony held them responsible for stealing the data of 100 million online players, information that was later denied by Anonymous.