Although hacktivist goals vary greatly, common themes include doxing, DDoS attacks and website mirroring techniques.
Anonymous is perhaps the most well-known hacktivist group. Since emerging on 4chan imageboard in 2003, Anonymous has become an invaluable force for internet transparency, using methods such as doxing and DDoS attacks to bring to light companies and government security agencies.
What is Hacktivism?
Hacktivism is a form of activism which uses computer hacking skills to promote political or social beliefs. Although considered illegal by most governments, hacktivists generally don’t cause physical damage or significant financial loss as part of their activism. It should also be distinguished from cyberterrorism which is more serious and dangerous form of cybercrime.
Different hacktivist groups employ various means to achieve their goals. Common tactics used include denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), data theft, website defacement and doxxing/geobombing as well as using computer viruses or worms that spread protest messages. Hacktivists may act alone or act together; for instance Anonymous comprises individuals that do not know each other personally.
Many hacktivists identify as civil disobedients to make their actions clear to the public and place them within a recognized tradition of protest movements such as those begun by Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr.
How Does Hacktivism Works?
Hacktivism takes on various forms to advance political causes. Hacktivism tactics include distributed denial of service attacks (DDOS) that overwhelm systems with so much traffic that it shuts down; website defacement; computer viruses/worms spreading information about causes to numerous users; and data breaches exposing confidential company or organizational details.
Hacktivists tend to be motivated by various motives, including revenge, political or social incentives, ideology and protest – often against organizations that go against their moral stance – though some have cited religious motivations for their activities as well.
Hacktivism seeks to bring attention and change public opinion on political or social issues by disrupting organization or company websites, disclosing confidential data or exposing sensitive locations, or redirecting users to alternative websites promoting hacktivist causes. Some see hacktivism as an act of electronic civil disobedience similar to traditional civil disobedience – however this view risks placing hacktivist activities within an imprisoning conceptual and normative framework that does not adequately capture its unique character.
5 Types of Hacktivism
Hacktivism, a hybrid between hacking and activism, is a form of protest in which hackers utilize their technical skill to fight injustice or promote social change. While hacktivism has existed since Internet usage became widespread household item, its growth is becoming ever more apparent with each passing year.
Hacktivism comes in various forms. One common tactic involves defacing websites as digital graffiti in order to make political statements or protest against an issue; Anonymous often perform this type of hacktivism.
Leak information. One form of hacktivism that relies heavily on leakage of information is through “doxing”, where personal information about someone is posted publicly online; or using software like RECAP to gain access to documents that would usually remain secret.
One of the more controversial forms of hacktivism occurs when groups such as WikiLeaks release large quantities of sensitive data about an individual or company; often seen by many as whistleblowing.
1. Denial-of-Service Attacks
Hacktivism refers to the use of computer hacking for social and political causes. As an umbrella term for cyberactivism, hacktivism encompasses various techniques such as denial-of-service attacks, doxing attacks, anonymous blogging and website replication – often carried out by self-professed hacktivists operating with anonymized identities.
Hacktivism in its purest form is distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS). A DDoS involves sending multiple, compromised computers flooding a target website with traffic, overwhelming server resources and blocking regular visitors from accessing it. This form of cyberterrorism can significantly disrupt businesses and cost them revenue as it stops payments being processed or services requests from being fulfilled.
Doxing is a form of hacktivism which involves publically disclosing sensitive information about an individual or organization, including personal details or identification data such as their home address, name of their children or which school they attended.
Cyberterrorism is an extreme form of hacktivism that involves using various means to cause fear, damage or disruption and is considered criminal act that will be punished by law enforcement agencies.
Doxing, the practice of publishing private information about someone online in an attempt to embarrass or protest, may vary in terms of legality depending on what information is shared and its scope – in addition to breaching several sites’ terms of service as well as laws against stalking, harassment and threats.
Hacktivist group Anonymous made headlines in 2017 for doxing Sony following allegations that it supported white supremacist groups at Charlottesville, exposing personal details for approximately 100,000 customers and employees, such as email addresses, passwords, birthdays and home addresses.
An attack of this nature can cost companies both money and reputation, especially when made public. Furthermore, it can engender customer distrust – making it even more imperative that enterprises implement effective cybersecurity defenses with tools to detect any suspicious internal user activity and prevent attacks.
Hacktivists use this hacktivist technique to redirect website visitors away from an activist cause onto another website that promotes it – often known as virtual sit-in.
Hacktivists use various tactics to conduct attacks, including distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. This occurs when compromised devices flood a targeted website with too much traffic to allow it to respond properly to legitimate user requests, leaving it unable to respond at all – often leading to businesses suspending operations as a result.
Doxing is another form of hacktivism which involves disclosing confidential information about an individual or organization to bring shame upon them, or bring up actions which might be considered unethical. Doxing can often be used as a form of protest.
Hacktivist actions may not always be legal, but they serve a useful function. Hacktivism actions may raise awareness and foster feelings of discontent; however, their actions also have the potential to damage the internet and lead to further crime. Conflating digital actions with traditional civil disobedience risks forcing truly creative forms of online illegality into an impossibly narrow and normative framework they do not deserve.
4. Website Mirroring Techniques
Website mirroring is the process of duplicating an Internet resource such as a website or file and placing it on multiple servers in various geographically dispersed regions; countering censorship; providing freedom of information; or offering workarounds for firewalls.
Mirroring can have many positive benefits; however, it can also be used maliciously. For instance, competitors could create fake websites to capture traffic away from you and steal your reputation.
To prevent this from happening, be sure to employ internal linking on all pages and update these links whenever new content is uploaded. This will ensure that mirrored versions of your website link back to its legitimate one and prevent visitors from being sent to counterfeit or phishing websites, making it harder for cybercriminals to spy on your business and collect data.
5. Changing the Code for Websites
Some hackers operate as solo operators while others work together in groups like Anonymous – best known for cyberattacks against Scientology Church members, antipiracy groups, and government agencies. Some hacktivists specialize in developing tools to bypass content restrictions, anonymize online activity, and share uncensored information.
Hacktivism often takes the form of doxing, which involves breaking into websites to gather personal or confidential data and post it online for public display. This may range from publicly identifying terrorists or pedophiles to publicly outing them as sexual abusers; hacktivists use doxing as a form of political or social activism as well.
Many hacktivists disguise their actions as acts of civil disobedience and justify them in much the same way as traditional activists would, by arguing their goals are morally superior and therefore justifiable despite any sacrifice. Unfortunately, conflating digital resistance with traditional forms of civil disobedience runs the risk of distorting its unique features while forcing it into an normative framework it shouldn’t belong in.
Hacktivism is a form of activism characterized by the illegal use of computers to advance an agenda, with attacks such as website defacement, data theft and DDoS attacks among them.
An understanding of hacktivism can help enterprises construct effective cyber defenses against it and protect customer loyalty and trust. Acknowledging its existence helps create effective safeguards.
Who Do Hacktivists Target?
Hacktivists employ their tactics to expose groups or individuals promoting values which violate society’s moral code – this may include religious or political organizations, large corporations or government agencies.
Hacktivists typically operate anonymously to avoid prosecution for unlawful activity; however, many share similar views and goals that allow them to organize into groups of hacktivists.
Hacktivist techniques often used by hackers include defacement, data stealing and geobombing. Defacement involves changing the visual appearance of websites to push their message across while geobombing involves adding geotags to YouTube videos that display their location on Google Earth or Maps; geobombing has been used effectively against political prisoners and human rights activists by geobombing sites that display their locations online.
Anonymous and the Legion of Doom of cDc Communication’s are both examples of hacktivist groups. The latter created Hacktivismo as an anti-censorship technology collective to support freedom of information and combat censorship. Additionally, Hacktivismo has voiced opposition against using distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks to disable websites since this practice hinders transparency and free speech on the internet.
Who is Anonymous?
Anonymous is an indefatigable force. From their Robin Hood-inspired ideology of championing free speech, to their reckless disregard for consequences and Guy Fawkes masks seen during protests against governments or corporations – no doubt Anonymous stands out as a force to be reckoned with.
They are an informal leaderless organization without an overall leader or central figure; members communicate their protest ideas and activities via social media and use software known as the low-orbit ion cannon to launch Distributed Denial-of-Service attacks on targeted websites.
At times, these cyberattacks violate Internet usage policies and local laws; yet their supporters argue they represent legitimate civil disobedience online. Molly Sauter defended DDoS attacks against Scientology and Gawker as legitimate forms of ECD; Aaron Swartz called for civil disobedience against privatized knowledge, while Telecomix promoted hacking tools as forms of ECD.
What Motivates Hacktivists?
Contrasting traditional hackers who work solely for financial gain, hacktivists usually support an ideological cause they hold strongly to. From political to social or religious causes – their goals often include raising awareness to their causes through cyber attacks that are difficult for most people to detect and stop.
Example of hacktivist group publishing list of websites they will attack using Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks; this essentially floods websites with requests, rendering them inaccessible for normal visitors.
An attack such as this one can severely damage a company and cost millions in revenue. As with traditional street protests, however, cybersquatting doesn’t put activists in physical danger, enabling geographically dispersed individuals with similar beliefs to band together to fight injustice together.
Hacktivism has been around since the 1990s. But its rise became evident during the early 2000s with the formation of various groups dedicated to hacktivism – hacker groups with common goals such as opposing government secrecy, IP law or human rights abuses.
Others have suggested that hacktivism falls under civil disobedience as it challenges authority and norms, yet others disagree, noting that many hacktivists engage in illegal practices like using computers and networks without authorization to achieve their goals.
These hackers have claimed to have breached industrial control systems (ICS), prompting experts in cybersecurity and OT to warn that accessing an ICS could alter physical processes and controls, endangering public safety. For instance, accessing the HMI of a pool may allow these hackers to alter the pH levels or chlorine parameters, potentially endangering swimmers’ health.