In its early form, the concept was adopted by a decentralized online community acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal, and primarily focused on entertainment, or often referred to as " lulz ". Beginning with 's Project Chanology —a series of protests, pranks, and hacks targeting the Church of Scientology —the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative hacktivism on a number of issues internationally.
Individuals claiming to align themselves with Anonymous undertook protests and other actions including direct action in retaliation against copyright-focused campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. Later targets of Anonymous hacktivism included government agencies of the U.
Anons have publicly supported WikiLeaks and the Occupy movement. Some actions by members of the group have been described as being anti-Zionist. Evaluations of the group's actions and effectiveness vary widely. Supporters have called the group "freedom fighters"  and digital Robin Hoods  while critics have described them as "a cyber lynch-mob"  or "cyber terrorists".
Long-standing political question that has gone unanswered with often tragic consequences for social movements. This is an Internet-based, non-extremist, socialist community movement that looks for answers to questions that are unanswered. Internal dissent is also a regular feature of the group. Among those that do, opinions vary considerably. Broadly speaking, Anons oppose Internet censorship and control, and the majority of their actions target governments, organizations, and corporations that they accuse of censorship. Anons were early supporters of the global Occupy movement and the Arab Spring.
We [Anonymous] just happen to be a group of people on the Internet who need—just kind of an outlet to do as we wish, that we wouldn't be able to do in regular society. That's more or less the point of it. Do as you wish. There's a common phrase: Because Anonymous has no leadership, no action can be attributed to the membership as a whole. Parmy Olson and others have criticized media coverage that presents the group as well-organized or homogeneous; Olson writes, "There was no single leader pulling the levers, but a few organizational minds that sometimes pooled together to start planning a stunt.
It is a crowd of people, a nebulous crowd of people, working together and doing things together for various purposes. The group's few rules include not disclosing one's identity, not talking about the group, and not attacking media. We do not forgive. We do not forget.
Journalists have commented that Anonymous' secrecy, fabrications, and media awareness pose an unusual challenge for reporting on the group's actions and motivations. They weave vast fabrications as a form of performance. Then they tell the truth at unexpected and unfortunate times, sometimes destroying themselves in the process. The name Anonymous itself is inspired by the perceived anonymity under which users post images and comments on the Internet. A tag of Anonymous is assigned to visitors who leave comments without identifying the originator of the posted content.
Users of imageboards sometimes jokingly acted as if Anonymous was a single individual. In a raid on July 12, , for example, large numbers of 4chan readers invaded the Finnish social networking site Habbo Hotel with identical avatars; the avatars blocked regular Habbo members from accessing the digital hotel's pool, stating it was "closed due to fail and AIDS". The report called the group "hackers on steroids", "domestic terrorists", and an "Internet hate machine". Encyclopedia Dramatica was founded in by Sherrod DiGrippo, initially as a means of documenting gossip related to livejournal , but it quickly was adopted as a major platform by Anonymous for parody and other purposes.
Flamingly racist and misogynist content lurks throughout, all of it calculated to offend. On April 14, , the original URL of the site was redirected to a new website named Oh Internet that bore little resemblance to Encyclopedia Dramatica. Parts of the ED community harshly criticized the changes. Anonymous first became associated with hacktivism [b] in following a series of actions against the Church of Scientology known as Project Chanology.
On January 15, , the gossip blog Gawker posted a video in which celebrity Scientologist Tom Cruise praised the religion;  and the Church responded with a cease-and-desist letter for violation of copyright. The LOIC soon became a signature weapon in the Anonymous arsenal; however, it would also lead to a number of arrests of less experienced Anons who failed to conceal their IP addresses. During the DDoS attacks, a group of Anons uploaded a YouTube video in which a robotic voice speaks on behalf of Anonymous, telling the "leaders of Scientology" that "For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind—for the laughs—we shall expel you from the Internet.
On February 10, thousands of Anonymous joined simultaneous protests at Church of Scientology facilities around the world. By the start of , Scientologists had stopped engaging with protesters and had improved online security, and actions against the group had largely ceased. A period of infighting followed between the politically engaged members called "moralfags" in the parlance of 4chan and those seeking to provoke for entertainment trolls. In September , however, Anons became aware of Aiplex Software , an Indian software company that contracted with film studios to launch DDoS attacks on websites used by copyright infringers, such as The Pirate Bay.
In their eyes is not hope, only dollar signs. Anonymous will not stand this any longer. Copyright Office ,  and the website of Gene Simmons of Kiss. In November , the organization WikiLeaks began releasing hundreds of thousands of leaked U. In the face of legal threats against the organization by the U. Senator Joe Lieberman , who had supported the push to cut off services.
On December 8, Anons launched an attack against PayPal's main site. According to Topiary, who was in the command channel during the attack, the LOIC proved ineffective, and Anons were forced to rely on the botnets of two hackers for the attack, marshaling hijacked computers for a concentrated assault. However, this account was disputed. The attacks brought down PayPal. It later provided the IP addresses of 1, of its attackers to the FBI , leading to at least 14 arrests. In the years following Operation Payback, targets of Anonymous protests, hacks, and DDoS attacks continued to diversify.
Beginning in January , Anons took a number of actions known initially as Operation Tunisia in support of Arab Spring movements. Tflow created a script that Tunisians could use to protect their web browsers from government surveillance, while fellow future LulzSec member Hector Xavier Monsegur alias "Sabu" and others allegedly hijacked servers from a London web-hosting company to launch a DDoS attack on Tunisian government websites, taking them offline.
Sabu also used a Tunisian volunteer's computer to hack the website of Prime Minister Mohamed Ghannouchi , replacing it with a message from Anonymous. Several attacks by Anons have targeted organizations accused of homophobia. In February , an open letter was published on AnonNews. In April , Anons launched a series of attacks against Sony in retaliation for trying to stop hacks of the PlayStation 3 game console.
More than million Sony accounts were compromised, and the Sony services Qriocity and PlayStation Network were taken down for a month apiece by cyberattacks. The attack, made in response to the killing of Charles Hill a month prior, resulted in customers' personal information leaked onto the group's website. When the Occupy Wall Street protests began in New York City in September , Anons were early participants and helped spread the movement to other cities such as Boston. Anons launched Operation Darknet in October , targeting websites hosting child pornography.
In particular, the group hacked a child pornography site called " Lolita City " hosted by Freedom Hosting , releasing 1, usernames from the site.
Anonymous' most memorable hacks
Anons also said that they had disabled forty image-swapping pedophile websites that employed the anonymity network Tor. In attempt to eliminate child pornography from the internet, the group posted the emails and IP addresses of suspected pedophiles on the online forum PasteBin. In , the Koch Industries website was attacked following their attack upon union members, resulting in their website being made inaccessible for 15 minutes.
On January 19, , the U. Department of Justice shut down the file-sharing site Megaupload on allegations of copyright infringement. Anons responded with a wave of DDoS attacks on U. In , Anonymous launched Operation Anti-Bully: The organization also published the personal information of Andrew Myers, the proprietor of "Is Anyone Back", a copycat site of Mr. Moore's "Is Anyone Up? Demonstrations were held in cities around the world to coincide with Guy Fawkes Night.
Operation Oklahoma was a Mutual Aid effort responding to the flash floods and wind storms in the United States. Operation Safe Winter was an effort to raise awareness about homelessness through the collection, collation, and redistribution of resources. This program began on 7 November  after an online call to action from Anonymous UK.
Three missions using a charity framework were suggested in the original global spawning a variety of direct actions from used clothing drives to pitch in community potlucks feeding events in the UK, US and Turkey. The OpSafeWinter call to action quickly spread through the mutual aid communities like Occupy Wall Street  and its offshoot groups like the open-source -based OccuWeather. The project to support those living on the streets while causing division in its own online network has been able to partner with many efforts and organizations not traditionally associated with Anonymous or online activists.
In the wake of the fatal police shooting of unarmed African-American Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri , "Operation Ferguson"—a hacktivist organization that claimed to be associated with Anonymous—organized cyberprotests against police, setting up a website and a Twitter account to do so. On November 24, , Anonymous shut down the Cleveland city website and posted a video after Tamir Rice , a twelve-year-old boy armed only with a BB gun, was shot to death by a police officer in a Cleveland park.
In January , Anonymous released a video and a statement via Twitter condemning the attack on Charlie Hebdo , in which 12 people, including eight journalists, were fatally shot. The video, claiming that it is "a message for al-Qaeda , the Islamic State and other terrorists", was uploaded to the group's Belgian account. Anonymous opposed Anti-Islamic Reclaim Australia rallies and described it as "an extreme right-wing group inciting religious hatred. On June 17, , Anonymous claimed responsibility for a Denial of Service attack against Canadian government websites in protest of the passage of bill C —an anti-terror legislation that grants additional powers to Canadian intelligence agencies.
On 28 October , Anonymous announced that it would reveal the names of up to 1, members of the Ku Klux Klan and other affiliated groups, stating in a press release, "You are terrorists that hide your identities beneath sheets and infiltrate society on every level. The privacy of the Ku Klux Klan no longer exists in cyberspace.
Since , Saudi Arabian hacktivists have been targeting government websites protesting the actions of the regime. In , an offshoot of Anonymous self-described as Ghost Security or GhostSec started targeting Islamic State -affiliated websites and social media handles. In November , Anonymous announced a major, sustained operation  against ISIS following the November Paris attacks , declaring, "Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down. You should know that we will find you and we will not let you go. The BBC reported that most of the accounts on the list appeared to be still active.
In , a group that claims affiliation with Anonymous group, calling themselves as AnonSec, claimed to have hacked and gathered almost GB of data from NASA servers including NASA flight and radar logs and videos, and also multiple documents related to ongoing research. The Blink Hacker Group, associating themselves with the Anonymous group, claimed to have hacked the Thailand prison websites and servers. The hack was done in response to news from Thailand about the mistreatment of prisoners in Thailand.
In March , Anonymous was reported to have declared war on Donald Trump. Anonymous was also reported to have declared war on Hillary Clinton. A group calling themselves Anonymous Africa launched a number of DDoS attacks on websites associated with the controversial South African Gupta family in mid-June The group's first attack was against Fox.
They stole user data and posted a fake story on the site that claimed that rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls were still alive and living in New Zealand. In June , members of the group claimed responsibility for an attack against Sony Pictures that took data that included "names, passwords, e-mail addresses, home addresses and dates of birth for thousands of people.
They obtained and published around 26, e-mail addresses and passwords. Most of the takedowns were performed with DDoS attacks. LulzSec also hacked a variety of government-affiliated sites, such as chapter sites of InfraGard , a non-profit organization affiliated with the FBI. Central Intelligence Agency , taking the website offline for several hours with a distributed denial-of-service attack.
The websites for the Bank of Portugal , the Assembly of the Republic , and the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Development all became unavailable for a few hours. On June 26, , the core LulzSec group announced it had reached the end of its "50 days of lulz" and was ceasing operations. His cooperation led to the arrests of Ryan Cleary, James Jeffery, and others.
On June 23, in retaliation for the passage of the immigration enforcement bill Arizona SB , LulzSec released a cache of documents from the Arizona Department of Public Safety , including the personal information and home addresses of many law enforcement officers. On July 18, LulzSec hacked into and vandalized the website of British newspaper The Sun in response to a phone-hacking scandal. Since , dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks, in countries including the U.
He pleaded guilty to "unauthorized impairment of a protected computer" in November and was sentenced to days in U. On June 13, , officials in Turkey arrested 32 individuals that were allegedly involved in DDoS attacks on Turkish government websites.
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These members of Anonymous were captured in different cities of Turkey including Istanbul and Ankara. According to PC Magazine , these individuals were arrested after they attacked websites as a response to the Turkish government demand to ISPs to implement a system of filters that many have perceived as censorship. Chris Doyon alias "Commander X" , a self-described leader of Anonymous, was arrested in September for a cyberattack on the website of Santa Cruz County , California.
In September , journalist and Anonymous associate Barrett Brown , known for speaking to media on behalf of the group, was arrested hours after posting a video that appeared to threaten FBI agents with physical violence. Brown was subsequently charged with 17 offenses, including publishing personal credit card information from the Stratfor hack.
Several law enforcement agencies took action after Anonymous' Operation Avenge Assange. According to the statements of U. Additionally, a year-old boy was held by the police in south London on suspicion of breaching the Computer Misuse Act , and four were held in the Netherlands. AnonOps admin Christopher Weatherhead alias "Nerdo" , a year-old who had reportedly been intimately involved in organising DDoS attacks during "Operation Payback",  was convicted by a UK court on one count of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers in December He was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment.
Ashley Rhodes, Peter Gibson, and another male had already pleaded guilty to the same charge for actions between August and January Evaluations of Anonymous' actions and effectiveness vary widely. In a widely shared post, blogger Patrick Gray wrote that private security firms "secretly love" the group for the way in which it publicises cyber security threats. In , Public Radio International reported that the U. National Security Agency considered Anonymous a potential national security threat and had warned the president that it could develop the capability to disable parts of the U.
One security consultant compared the group to "a jewelry thief that drives through a window, steal jewels, and rather than keep them, waves them around and tosses them out to a crowd They're very noisy, low-grade crimes. Graham Cluley, a security expert for Sophos , argued that Anonymous' actions against child porn websites hosted on a darknet could be counterproductive, commenting that while their intentions may be good, the removal of illegal websites and sharing networks should be performed by the authorities, rather than Internet vigilantes.
Gabriella Coleman has compared the group to the trickster archetype  and said that "they dramatize the importance of anonymity and privacy in an era when both are rapidly eroding. Given that vast databases track us, given the vast explosion of surveillance, there's something enchanting, mesmerizing and at a minimum thought-provoking about Anonymous' interventions". In some cases, yes, I think it has in terms of some of the stuff they did in the Middle East supporting the pro-democracy demonstrators. But a lot of bad things too, unnecessarily harassing people — I would class that as a bad thing.
I will confess up front that I love Anonymous, but not because I think they're the heroes. Like Alan Moore's character V who inspired Anonymous to adopt the Guy Fawkes mask as an icon and fashion item, you're never quite sure if Anonymous is the hero or antihero. The trickster is attracted to change and the need for change, and that's where Anonymous goes.
But they are not your personal army — that's Rule 44 — yes, there are rules. And when they do something, it never goes quite as planned.
Project Chanology - Wikipedia
The internet has no neat endings. Anonymous is the first internet-based super-consciousness. Anonymous is a group, in the sense that a flock of birds is a group. At any given moment, more birds could join, leave, peel off in another direction entirely. Robot , said in an interview with Motherboard that he was inspired by Anonymous when creating the hacktivist drama. Robot "the most accurate portrayal of security and hacking culture ever to grace the screen.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about a group of activists. For other uses, see Anonymous disambiguation. An emblem that is commonly associated with Anonymous. The "man without a head" represents anonymity and leaderless organization. Scientology supporters call them religious bigots and cyber-terrorists. The media has called them Hackers on Steroids. But who is Anonymous really? And why are they against Scientology? While we do not, in any way, shape or form, support illegal activities, the protests and pickets that Anonymous has recently staged has raised public awareness regarding the dangers of Scientology.
Originally, Anonymous was a loosely connected group of similar-minded people from all over the world who networked online, played pranks on websites, traded information and media, and were general internet rabble rousers. Anonymous has no leaders, and anyone can join Anonymous. Members of Anonymous keep their personal information and real names hidden from the public view and from each other, which helps support the decentralized framework of the group. Anonymous originally began attacking the Church of Scientology in late January , when the CoS took legal action to remove the now infamous Tom Cruise video from the internet.
Anonymous then allied with long-time Scientology critics and ex-members, and stormed the gates with a series of world-wide protests at Scientology centers on Feb. Their next set of protests is planned for March 15, in most major cities around the world.