The hacktivist collective Anonymous is dying, but the void is being filled by other actors seeking to use cyberattacks to shape political debate, according Joe Gallop, manager, cyber intelligence production and analysis at iSIGHT Partners.
In a Tuesday presentation at the 2015 RSA Conference titled “Hacktivism in 2015 – It Isn’t Just for the Lulz Anymore,” Gallop pointed to a decline in Anonymous activity and communication since late 2010, when the group launched DDoS attacks on companies that refused to do business with the WikiLeaks site. Anonymous has since apparently fragmented over internal disputes over whether to mount attacks on network infrastructure, a debate that Gallop dates from a manifesto published by the Cult of the Dead Cow collective in 1999.
In the interim, other entities have taken up hacktivism, defined by Gallop as a public attempt to effect political change through electronic attacks, as opposed to surreptitious criminal activities, espionage or secret cyber battles between nation states. “By definition, when you are trying to alter the opinions of a target audience, that audience has to know what you are doing,” Gallop said.
The most prominent hacktivists today are groups like the Syrian Electronic Army and ISIS and the allegedly North Korea-linked hackers who attacked Sony Pictures, Gallop said.