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globestupendousSecurity

Dec 3, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)

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Conor Brown

2/5/12

Eng 1020

The rise of Anonymous from the 4chan /b/ image
-
board as a group of
internet pranksters into a full fledged cyber collective and political movement,
Anonymous is one of the most important and persuasive organizations of our time.
One of the greatest feature
s of this organization is that it is be design, not very
organized. There are no real leaders of Anonymous, no official meeting places, no
real rules and no official goals. The most visible means of communication from
Anonymous are the videos that they pos
t on YouTube. They are there to let its
members and prospective members know about the
latest operation. In
Anonymous’

collection of videos, they argue that all people should be free to access
any and all information through written laws and well document
ed events, a large
hive mind and uncensored stolen information from governments, ant the promise of
benefiting the masses
.


A group such as Anonymous could only exist in today’s world where the
Internet allows people from around the world to communicate an
d exchange ideas
at the speed of light. The rise of social media such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube
creates a global platform for anyone to speak their mind and instantly reach a global
audience.

Anonymous has been on the cutting edge of social media op
timization
since its incepting, and many techniques now common for businesses to use were
invented by its members.

Anonymous uses well known traffic directing websites
,
such as 4chan or Reddit,

to get people to watch their videos, causing news feed
algorit
hms to feature the videos more, attracting more viewers. It is entirely
possible that Anonymous also uses automated methods, known as a “bot
”, which

generates views even when people aren’t actually watching the video. Prominent
twitter accounts associated
with Anonymous have been known to gain thousands of
followers overnight, most of which are clearly dummy accounts. This causes the
target account to be suggested more to people that may be
supportive of
Anonymous.

The beauty of anonymous is that anyone can

be a member. Doctors, lawyers,
soldiers, politicians, hackers, slackers, rich people, poor people, and anyone in
between from around the globe can become members simply by maintaining a loose
set of ideals and morals. Even the degree to which one accepts
these ideals and
morals can vary from person to person. It is truly a reflection of society as a whole.
They realize that the true power is held by the masses, and the power that elites
hold is only an illusion. Through the Internet, people for the first t
ime are beginning
to realize this and communicate quickly and in relative secrecy. Even monetary
transactions these days can be done in with relative security through bitcoin.

This
also opens the doors to criminals using them to hide their finances online
, but that
comes with the territory of true freedom.

The causes that Anonymous takes up have ranged over the years, but they
have increasingly become anti
-
government, especially towards the US government.
This is partially a result of the resentment that m
ost hackers hold towards the
governme
nt after years of persecution, as well as a general feeling of the US
government becoming more authoritarian, especially in regards to control of the
internet. Anonymous is also generally against corporate interests on
the internet,
specifically in regards to net neutrality. If net neutrality were ended, corporations
could purchase preferential treatment for bandwidth, effectively making those with
the most money the ones that
are allowed to have more visitors. This woul
d make it
very easy for large websites to smother smaller competitors with good ideas,
something that is hard to do currently.

Anonymous is known most for its ability to steal information from just about
anyone or any organization. They often do so after w
hat is known as a distributed
denial of service attack, also known as a DDoS.
A distributed denial of service attack
is the Internet equivalent to a sit
-
in. It uses a large number of computer that
continuously request information from a website. The large
volume of simultaneous
traffic
stresses out the server
and

prevents any legitimate traffic from accessing the
website.
These can last for hours or days
at a time. This also leaves websites and
their data open for theft by some of the more experienced hack
tivists.
Anonymous
distributes software, namely the Low Orbit Ion Cannon, referred to as the LOIC, and
the High Orbit Ion Cannon, or HOIC, that is used to stress test websites. It allows a
user to volunteer his computer for use in a botnet, a distr
ibuted c
ollective of
computers working in tandem

to accomplish one task. Organizers of so
-
called
“raids” or “operations” point the botnet at a target website and then unleash the fury
of a few thousand ping requests. Essentially, this creates a situation where a w
ebsite
receives thousands of queries that would roughly translate into English as “Hello.
Are you there?” Imagine trying to receive a phone call from your mom about what
time dinner was, while thousands of other people were calling your phone at the
same t
ime. The chances of your mother getting through are small, and even if she
did, it would take a while. Now imagine having multiple cell phones, all going off
with thousands of people calling them while you’re on a busy subway. You’re so
distracted

and angr
y that your mom isn’t getting through,

that you don’t realize
when

someone
steals
your wallet from your back pocket in all of the confusion. This
is how a
typical

DDoS

attack goes down
.



DDoS
attacks are not only effective because they create a very visib
le
presence for
A
nonymous, but they also supply supporters with a way to get directly
involved in the cause. This feeds into the
hive mind

appeal and makes he
participants feel like they are part of something much bigger than themselves.

The
participants c
an voice their opinion from anywhere in the world and all are equal
players. There is no “I shut down that website”, only “We shut down that website”.
Although not a technically hard victory, shutting down government websites does
wonders for morale, and
makes

more people want to participate.

The number of
people required for a successful DDoS is relatively low. It only took around 1400
attackers to shut down the MasterCard website, and many government websites are
not equipped to handle that much traffic.

The common “Script kiddie” does not
understand this, and only cares that they are helping the cause. This produces big
results from relatively few people, although it gives the appearance of a much larger
coordinated strike.

Nothing is better for PR than
taking down the CIA website,
even
if it is only a symbolic victory.



One of the most perplexing things about Anonymous is what they do with the
information they steal. Without exception, it is posted out on the Internet for anyone
to download, for free, a
nd look at the information in its raw format. While there are
criminal elements that take advantage of this, most of the information is used by
journalists and other independent parties.
This lends credibility to Anonymous, who
often work to expose lies an
d propaganda, by giving the information in its unedited
format. They show what is there and not just what they want you to see.


One of the first attacks by Anonymous was taking down the Church of
Scientology website
. In addition to DDoSing Scientology’s o
nline presence, they held
simultaneous protests outside church locations around the world. Scientology was
chosen as a target bec
ause of the general abusive practices of the church. This was
important because Anonymous realized at this point the real power

that they held.
They were able to influence thousands of people around a central cause.

They
became way more ambitious and started to appear in the news more and more.


The biggest victory with the most
far
-
reaching

consequences that
Anonymous has achieve
d is the hacking of HB Gary and HB Gary Federal.

It proved
that even defense contractors are not immune to attacks by civilians,, but the real
prize were the emails and files found. They showed that the company was basically
being contracted by the US gove
rnment to spy on American
citizens in the US. Even
more important than that was the translated code of the Stuxnet virus, which at the
time was the most complex piece of malware ever conceived.
It was released onto
the Internet for anyone and everyone to s
ee. This is the equivalent to stealing the
plans to an atomic bomb, then mailing them to everyone in the world. Most people
would have no idea what to do with them, but the few that do could really do some
damage.




The future is not clear for Anonymous.
They continue to gain support and
accomplish more and more complex attacks, however with this comes attention
from law enforcement.
Prospective members may think twice before participating
in activities that may land them in prison for lengthy amounts of t
ime. The media
also persecutes them and equates them with terrorists, which makes people new to
the ideals that anonymous has apprehensive. On the other side of the coin, they are
getting more and more powerful everyday, and an idea is very hard to get rid

of,
unlike a person. The unstructured nature as well makes it very hard to get everyone,
as there is no real chain of command outside of small factions of the group.
They
speak for the people and wish for everyone to have free access to all information.
A
nonymous is the voice of many voices. The motto of anonymous emphasizes this
well; “We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”