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TippingPoint Hacktivist Survival Guide

Apr 17, 2013

The last decade has seen the rise of crowd-sourced, activist-driven hacker groups. The term hacktivist has been coined to describe this group and refers to the nonviolent use of illegal or legally ambiguous digital tools in pursuit of political ends. More recently, there have been more attacks on corporations and governments in response to perceived wrongdoings by various groups. Most notable of these hacktivist groups is Anonymous.

Anonymous’ underlying beliefs have become visible with the mainstream media since its nefarious activities have touched some of the largest private and public entities worldwide. Take the following example of Jeremy Hammond of Chicago, IL (aka Anarchaos among others), who had a long history of radical social protesting long before he joined LulzSec, an Anonymous offshoot. Hammond’s hacktivist crime spree didn’t begin in earnest until 2011, but his activist activity, rising to a level that warranted his arrest, dates back to 2004, when he was detained during the Republican National Convention in New York City.

The goal of this paper is to provide a glimpse into the world of hacktivism and, more importantly, the group known as Anonymous. Various sections of this paper will explore the tools and tactics used by Anonymous, as well as techniques for defending against the primary attack vectors that are popular among various hacktivist groups. The primary keys to defending against hacktivist attacks are preparation, awareness, and education.

This paper will demonstrate that:

  • Anyone at any time can find themselves in the sights of a hacktivist group
  • The cost of a successful attack, even without data loss, can be immense
  • The direct financial cost has been in the tens of millions of dollars