Sept 30 — Up until last year, hacktivism was primarily associated with groups like Anonymous – decentralized and unstructured collectives composed of private individuals with assorted agendas.
Based on the preferences and wishes of its members, Anonymous has launched multiple campaigns directed at range of targets. Evidence shows that group members did not necessarily have any mutual ideological affiliations or interpersonal connections. Apparently, no one had a long-term agenda. And anyone, regardless of political affiliation, was welcome to join.
In the past year, things have changed. After a series of conflicts in the Middle East and Europe, hacktivists have regrouped and rethought their activities. The new hacktivism is better organized, better structured and more sophisticated than that of the past.
Although the change began in specific conflict-related geographical regions, it has now spread west and even further. Major corporations and governments in Europe and the US are being heavily targeted by this emerging type of hacktivism.
The major hacktivist groups that appeared within the last year share many characteristics of ordinary, structured, business organizations, with a clear and consistent mission, a well-designed hierarchy for members and leadership, a formal recruitment process and tools that the groups provide to members. In addition, the groups also have robust public relations operations to publicize and promote their successes, including on major media channels and websites.
All this allows the new hacktivism groups to quickly mobilize and achieve strategic and broad-based goals with higher success levels –and much wider public impact– than ever before. Hacktivist groups no longer consist of a few random individuals who carry out small DDoS or defacement attacks on low-tier websites. These are coordinated organizations which launch organized large-scale DDoS and disruptive attacks, with far-reaching consequences.