Anonymous is like no other, they are hacktivists, occasionally come above ground for protests wearing Guy Fawkes masks and apparently a few of their members have been arrested (Hackersnewsbulletin/anonymous). Their mantra: “We are Anonymous, We are Legion, We do not forgive, We do not forget, Expect us!” In “Anonymous in Context: The Politics and Power behind the Mask,” by Gabriella Coleman provides the most useful background information about Anonymous. Coleman writes, “Anonymous is difficult to pin down. Some “Anons” work independently, while others work in small teams or join a swarm of demonstrators during a large-scale campaign. Anonymous tends to ride and amplify the wave of existing events or causes.” (p.7) According to Coleman, the group began around 2005 as “obnoxious, occasionally humorous and at times terrifying world of Internet trolling, where pranking abounds.” (p. 4)
- Structure: They are anonymous so as with all hacktivists, names are hard to come by, except the members who have been arrested. According to one of their many websites, “ANONOPS: Anonymous Operations,” the group has two divisions, AnonOps Staff and Network Staff. Apparently there are more, “We started to do this page and realized it is impossible to list them all. There are dozens of people who help keep this network running on a daily basis. The channel operations do a great job and we offer them our genuine gratitude. Thanks to all especially Logical, Harleyquinn and BOFH.” (Anonops.com) Twelve members are listed under staff with names like evilworks: Network admin; Isis: Network admin and Effexor.greekfag; shitstorm: Server owner, root admin, and so on. Network Staff has three members, sUspicioUs: Network #help moderator, TOR accounts; Cookling: Newtork #help moderator; bobak: Main channeland #opnewblood moderator.
- Communications: Anonymous is extremely communications and media savvy.
I found about 14 web and social media sites that claim to be Anonymous sites. These sites are frequently hacked and unavailable, but eventually reappear. AnonOps and Anon Insiders are the most useful, and if I dare say, reliable. Anon Insiders include news releases, operations, news, guides, donate, submit PR/news, Contact and About. The group is media savvy and invites interviews (AnonOps). A documentary, “We are Legion, The Story of the Hacktivist,” was made in 2011 or 12 by Brian Knappenberger who was the film’s director, writer and producer.
- Recruitment: Apparently joining the group is not hard. Anoninsiders.net has a how-to-join page. Prospective members are encouraged to “Forget your real identity,” watch the trailer to the documentary, learn terms such as “ TOR Browser, IRC, VPN, Proxy,” and more. New members must also set up a secure system, with a dedicated computer and install various programs (anoninsiders.net/how-to-join-anonymous…).
- Attacks: Anonymous attacks generally are identified by someone scary names, such as “Project Chanology,” a multifaceted attack on the Church of Scientology that is still active (Coleman). OpGabon, August 17, 2013, defaced the Comilog website. Comilog, is a French and US mining company. According to hackmageddon.com, Anonymous leaked the leaked nine accounts from the database. On August 20 the group leaked 171 users details and the site’s administrator’s credentials. (Hackmageddon). Hackmageddon also reports that on March 7, 2014, Anonymous is credited with breaching a server of the Department of Biomedical Engineering of Johns Hopkins University (Hackmageddon). Attacks include denial of service attacks, breaching computer networks, defacing websites, sending massive emails as well as pranks such as ordering unpaid pizzas. (Coleman, Hackmageddon). Anonymous groups also exposes rapists and pedophiles pages in social media sites (Hackers News Bulletin).
• Goals: From their various websites and Coleman’s account of Anonymous, their goals appear to be to defend freedom of speech, freedom of the Internet, and to fight for justice.
- Financial Support: Many of their websites ask for donations using the online currency “bitcoin.” On AnonInsiders, “Donate” page they ask for donations for organizations they support such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Some sites ask for donations to support the costs of servers (AnonOps).