When hacking group Anonymous responded to the deadly terror attacks in Paris by threatening ISIS “We will hunt you down,” observers may have been left wondering what torturous punishment the group was planning to unleash on its terrorist nemesis.
They likely didn't expect some Rickrolling.
The hacktivist group has lately focused its attention on the age-old internet prank: posting links on social media accounts connected to Rick Astley's 1987 music video of “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
Anonymous generated some attention when the hacking group “declared war” on ISIS early last week and warned in a YouTube video, “These [Paris] attacks cannot be left unpunished.” The hacking group claimed last week to have taken down 5,500 ISIS accounts.
Since ISIS relies heavily on social media platforms like Twitter to implement its recruiting efforts, the Anonymous social media take-downs seemed an appropriate approach to a ruthless but technologically advanced terror group.
However, the hacktivist collective's strategy has generated more criticism lately from those who claim that these digital attacks have sabotaged the efforts of legitimate intelligence agencies.
A cybersecurity professional at Trend Micro told Bloomberg, “Police may be surveilling a suspected jihadi Twitter account and lose track because Anonymous intervened, albeit with the best intentions.”
In speaking with SCMagazine.com last week French security blogger Oliver Laurelli said while he's convinced that Anonymous is motivated by good intentions, there are risks. “When Twitter deletes accounts, at present, it is unclear if they provide data and especially metadata to police.”
Also, Ghost Security Group, another pseudo-anonymous group (previously GhostSecGroup), claimed it is responsible for many of the website takedowns attributed to Anonymous.
Like Anonymous, Ghost Security is a clandestine group of cyberwarriors. It appears that the group has some old history with the hacktivist group, according to an Anonymous blog post that claims the group lost many of its original members after it requested government funding for their intelligence capabilities. Ghost Security now works closely with government intelligence agencies, including a French intelligence group, the Peshmerga military in Iraq, and others, according to Ghost Security's website.
Anonymous members claim to have been targeted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation as informants in gaining information about hackers working with ISIS. One Twitter user called @5hm00p tweeted that the FBI “caught me at a point in time where I was literally ready to kill myself. They are no better than ISIS and pick on the vulnerable.” Most of his tweets have since been deleted, but the tweets refer to Junaid Hussain, a British-born ISIS hacker who was killed in a U.S. drone attack against ISIS.
Twitter user @5hm00p believes he may be the cause for her death. He warned other Anonymous members via Twitter, “If the @FBI ever approaches you don't be an idiot like me.”