Hacktivists – A Growing Cyber Threat

By Kevin Coleman -- Defense Tech Cyberwarfare Correspondent.

Activism manifesting itself on the Internet has been referred to as hacktivism for years. Recently, the intensity and success of cyber protests has caused businesses, the government, the military and intelligence community to increase their level of concern. At the center of concern is the group known as Anonymous. The successes that Anonymous has had with their attacks are reason for concern. In July authorities arrested 16 alleged members of the group within the United States with additional arrests in the U.K. and the Netherlands. The continued targeting and arrests of alleged members of Anonymous and LulzSec hacking groups seem to have inflamed the groups prompting concerns about retaliatory cyber attacks.

These concerns have risen to a level that just recently, the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) alerted the cyber security community of the threat of potential attacks from Anonymous over the next few months. On September 2nd DHS issued a security bulletin from their National Cyber-Security and Communications Integration Center warning about cyber attacks from entities under the Anonymous umbrella. DHS disclosed three separate international attack plans referred to as - Occupy Wall Street, Operation Facebook, and Project Mayhem.

You may remember that just recently Anonymous leveraged Twitter to try and influence dissatisfied employees of banks and other companies in the financial sector to provide the group with information and systems access. The bulletin went on to warn of the use of “unwilling coercion through embarrassment or blackmail may be a risk to personnel.” DHS went on to alert the cyber security community to what they termed “new tools” that have been developed by Anonymous that will be used in future attacks.

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