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Submitted by on April 21, 2013 – 4:14 pmNo Comment

Anonymous02Anonymous is a loosely associated hacktivist group. It originated in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitised global brain. It is also generally considered to be a blanket term for members of certain Internet subcultures, a way to refer to the actions of people in an environment where their actual identities are not known. It strongly opposes Internet censorship and surveillance, and has hacked various government websites. It has also targeted major security corporations. It also opposes Scientology, government corruption and homophobia. Its members can be distinguished in public by the wearing of stylised Guy Fawkes masks. In its early form, the concept was adopted by a decentralised online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment. From 2008, the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative, international hacktivism. They undertook protests and other actions in retaliation against anti-digital piracy campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. They have been called the freedom fighters of the Internet, a digital Robin Hood, and “anarchic cyber-guerrillas”.AnonymousWeb

Although not necessarily tied to a single online entity, many websites are strongly associated with Anonymous. This includes notable imageboards such as 4chan, their associated wikis, Encyclopædia Dramatica. After a series of controversial, widely publicised protests, distributed denial of service (DDoS) and website defacement attacks by Anonymous in 2008, incidents linked to its members increased. In consideration of its capabilities, Anonymous was posited by CNN in 2011 as being one of the three major successors to WikiLeaks. In 2012, Time named Anonymous as one of the most influential groups in the world.

Anonymous03The name Anonymous itself is inspired by the perceived anonymity under which users post images and comments on the Internet. Usage of the term Anonymous in the sense of a shared identity began on imageboards. A tag of Anonymous is assigned to visitors who leave comments without identifying the originator of the posted content. Users of imageboards sometimes jokingly acted as if Anonymous were a real person. The concept of the Anonymous entity advanced in 2004 when an administrator on the 4chan image board activated a “Forced_Anon” protocol that signed all posts as Anonymous. As the popularity of imageboards increased, the idea of Anonymous as a collective of unnamed individuals became an Internet meme.

‘We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us’.

It is impossible to ‘join’ Anonymous, as there is no leadership, no ranking, and no single means of communication. Anonymous is spread over many mediums and languages, with membership being achieved simply by wishing to join.anonymous01

A person known as Commander X provided interviews and videos about Anonymous. In 2011, he was at the centre of an investigation. According to Commander X, People’s Liberation Front (PLF), a collective of hactivists founded in 1985, acted with AnonOps, another sub-group of Anonymous, to carry out DDoS attacks against government websites in Tunisia, Iran, Egypt, and Bahrain. Explaining the relationship between Anonymous and the PLF, he suggested an analogy to NATO, with the PLF being a smaller sub-group that could choose to opt in or out of a specific project. ‘AnonOps and the PLF are both capable of creating huge “Internet armies”. The main difference is AnonOps moves with huge force, but very slowly because of their decision making process. The PLF moves with great speed, like a scalpel’.

The Low Orbit Ion Cannon is a network stress testing application that has been used by Anonymous to accomplish its DDoS attacks. Individual users download the LOIC and voluntarily contribute their computer to a bot net. This bot net is then directed against the target by AnonOps. Joining the bot net and volunteering one’s resources for the use of the group is thus one way of being a “member”, a concept that is otherwise hard to define.


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