Anonymous: a faceless time bomb

February 3, 2013 — by Carolyn Sun and Helen Wong

Envision a group of hackers, equivalent to a cyber army, using the Internet to defend freedom and liberty of the Web and its users. Romantic, isn’t it?

Envision a group of hackers, equivalent to a cyber army, using the Internet to defend freedom and liberty of the Web and its users. Romantic, isn’t it?

The hacktivist group Anonymous has been lauded by many for acting against the Stop Online Piracy Act and other attempted government restrictions. They declared cyber war on Israel when the country attempted to shut down the Internet in Gaza, and the country was hit with over 40 million hacks, an “unprecedented” number.

However, most people have not really paused to seriously consider what the word “anonymous” means: to be faceless and unidentified. The safety in anonymity poses a danger: Anonymous uses it as a shield.

Not only that, but there is no leader, ranking or any form of hierarchy in Anonymous. No one knows who is running the “official” websites and Twitter accounts, which announce attacks and rally members to hack websites. Anyone can “join” the group simply by spreading the “official” recruitment message, joining two Internet Relay Chats, reading the assistance guide and following Anonymous’s Twitter accounts, according to anonnews.org, the self-proclaimed news platform for Anonymous.

Anonymous also provides a unifying force between the cyber deviants of the world. The simple recruitment process, lack of chain of command and anonymous members make the group unreliable and opens the way theoretically for any group of people to attack anything. 

Aside from the obscurity of its members and itself, Anonymous launches attacks against anything that threatens the Internet or the vague idea of “people’s rights.” They have released the personal information of millions of people, including Sarah Palin, hacked into countless government websites and attacked the protectors of copyright.

They’re a glorified terrorist group.

Some may argue that Anonymous is using the invasion of privacy to fight the invasion of privacy—fighting fire with fire, so to speak. They claim that Anonymous is fighting for good causes, like against the discrimination of the LGBT community. These actions may be a good thing for now, but how long will it take for Anonymous to spin out of control and turn corrupt itself, its members using the group for personal advantages?

Anonymous has already hacked government websites of the United States, Britain, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. With the way things are going, members could eventually take complete control of online government systems. What will they do with their newfound power then? No one’s information will be safe.

According to The Washington Times, Iran already has recruited a hacker army to counter cyber attacks against its nuclear facilities in 2009. Other countries might need to start doing the same, and America, the cyber king, is one of them.

Anonymous is a ticking time bomb. Governments need to take online security much more seriously in order to meet the threat of Anonymous both efficiently and effectively.