In 2016, hacktivism disrupted cyberspace like never before seen. And the movement continues to grow at an exponential rate. We have entered the “hack back” era. What are the driving forces behind hacktivism? Who are the hacktivists? What are they looking to achieve?
This article will take a quick look at these questions and more.
Hacktivism Is About Personal Attacks
The December launching of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story in 2016 seemed to presage things to come. A band of outsiders going against all odds to steal the enemy’s confidential plans. This same plot seems to be playing out before the global audience as hacktivists go after big business and big government.
It all started in 2015, a period in time when data breaches seemed more personal rather than monetary.
- Hacktivist group Anonymous took on the Jihadist group ISIL
- Hackers knocked out the city of Baltimore’s main website after an inmate, Freddie Gray, died in police custody
- Anonymous attacked high-ranking government officials, including law enforcement, in Ferguson, Missouri, after police shot to death Michael Brown
- WikiLeaks continued to be a spur in the side of the United States government, leaking thousands of pages of classified documents
Hacktivism Down In 2018
According to hackmageddon.com, cybercrime has risen to 81 percent while hacktivism has fallen to merely 3.4 percent. Furthermore, cyber espionage has increased to 10.3 percent. But the question must be asked: how many attacks committed by hacktivists are considered cybercrime? Afterall, it is a slippery slope.
Today, the terms hacktivist and cybercriminal are used interchangeably. Furthermore, a debate is brewing on whether or not hacktivism equates a form of terrorism. And for those who want to pose that argument, terrorism by definition centers around political or social motivations. Thus making it quite easy to label groups such as Anonymous as a terrorist group.
Nevertheless, a large number of hackers have taken on the role of Robin Hood; hacking financial institutions such as Western Union, MoneyGram, PayPal, Skrill, among others and sharing the loot with those in need.
All you need do is go on the darknet and you’ll find hackers selling money transfers from these companies.
And this is where the thin line between hacktivism and cybercrime becomes concluded: on one hand it is theft but on the other hand such companies are not just in how they do business. PayPal subtracts a fairly sizeable amount from payments received by freelancers and small business owners; amounts that over time can be in the hundreds of dollars in a year.
Credit card companies, banks, loan companies, and pretty much the entire financial industry work hard to screw over their customers. This is why a large percentage of society cheer hacktivists on whenever news breaks of another attack against one of these institutions.
As we enter 2019, we can expect an increase in this sort of hacking. More people are born into a world controlled by technology, and hacking will become as mundane as shoplifting was 30 years ago.