Anonymous is the most famous ‘hacktivist’ group in the world. The informal nature of the group makes its mechanics difficult to define. Subsequently, without a formal organizational hierarchy, it’s difficult to explain Anonymous to the general public and the media. In this article, I’ll explain the history of the group, and offer some clarity on what’s misunderstood about them.
‘Hacktivist’ is a portmanteau of ‘hacker’ and ‘activist’. When people have technical skills, have access to the Internet, and understand how network infrastructure and servers work, it can be tempting to put that knowledge into having some effect on the world. The ‘activist’ part of ‘hacktivist’ means that they don’t do their hacking and cracking without a cause.
The various people behind Anonymous worldwide are united in a belief that corporations and organizations they consider to be corrupt should be attacked. If you’re an administrator for a network that has little reason to be a target for social activists, your network and servers are unlikely to become a target for Anonymous.
If for some reason you believe your network might become a target, I recommend testing it for handling DDoS attacks, as that’s the most common method Anonymous uses to bring down web servers.
Not all of Anonymous’ activities involve attacking networks or websites. Anonymous has also been active in initiating public protests. But the web and IRC channels are the lifeblood of the group. If it weren’t for the Internet, Anonymous would’ve never existed.