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Tags Current Affairs

Anonymous hacker group

Date: 08 June 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

As racial tensions in the US continue to make headlines, the ‘hacktivist’ group Anonymous is back in focus with social media handles believed to be associated with the group becoming active once again.

          

Background

In a video, the speaker wearing Anonymous’ signature Guy Fawkes mask accused the Minneapolis police of having a “horrific track record of violence and corruption” and threatened to “expose” its “many crimes”.

 

Details

  • The group has been accused of carrying out a cyberattack on the websites of the city of Minneapolis and its police department, making them temporarily inaccessible.

  • The webpage of a United Nations agency was also defaced, and replaced with a memorial carrying an Anonymous symbol that read “Rest In Power, George Floyd!”.

  • The group has been described as a decentralised online collective with no particular political affiliation, that rallies around causes such as opposing censorship and government control and promoting freedom of speech.

  • In the past, it has expressed support for the Occupy movement and Julian Assange’s WikiLeaks. The worldwide group is believed to include anyone who wants to join; its members being referred to as ‘anons’.

  • A signature characteristic of Anonymous is the Guy Fawkes mask, portrayed in the dystopian novel and film ‘V for Vendetta’, in which an anarchist anti-hero wearing the mask fights against a fascist, white supremacist government.

  • Another attribute of the group is the use of voice changers or text-to-speech programmes that let anons mask their voice in video messages.

  • Anonymous does not use any verified social media handles, with multiple factions using portals such as the ‘AnonNews’ website and Twitter account for disseminating the group’s motives and campaigns.

  • Over the years, the group has targetted child pornography websites and recruiting portals for the Islamic State. It has also gone after government agencies such as the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Pentagon in the US and the Scotland Yard in the UK.

  • Anonymous is known to primarily employ what is known as Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, in which hackers swamp a website’s server with data that causes it to crash, making the website inaccessible.

  • Another tactic that it uses is defacement– when the target website’s pages are replaced with the hacktivists’ messages and graphics. A related method is redirection– in which a change in the chosen web site’s addressing causes its users to be redirected to another page.

  • The group also uses more serious methods such as doxing, in which private or sensitive information is stolen, destroying data using computer viruses, and “phishing” for extracting personal data.

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