The network activist group, Anonymous, is best known for its decentralized order of operations concerning attacks on government, religious, and corporate websites. The group is recognized as a hacktivist entity with a very loose command structure, which operates on mutual ideas rather than direction. Individuals appearing in public as Anonymous wear Guy Fawkes masks in order to protect their identities, similarly to the anonymity of Clark Kent in Superman. This “virtual community” originated through the imageboard 4chan after many online communities orchestrated a series of protests and pranks targeted at the Church of Scientology. Individuals who associated themselves with the Anonymous collective also undertook protests in response to the anti-digital piracy campaign by motion picture and recording industry associations. Although Anonymous does not have a strictly organized agenda, internal dissent remains a defining feature of their group. In general, members of Anonymous, also known as Anons, oppose the increase of internet censorship and corporate interests controlling the internet. As a result, they target governments, organizations, and corporations associated with the endorsement of censorship. In September 2010, Anons became aware of the contractile relationship between the Indian software company Aiplex Software and film studios. These associations were targeting and launching DDoS attacks on websites, such as the Pirate Bay, that provided pirated content. In response to the attempt at silencing people’s right to spread information, Anons successfully shut down the Recording Industry Association of American’s (RIAA) and the Motion Picture Association of America’s (MPAA) websites. By October 2010, the total downtime for all the websites attacked during “Operation Payback Is a Bitch” was 537.55 hours. In the years following Operation Payback, the targets of Anonymous protests ranged from organizations accused of homophobia to the New York Stock Exchange during the Occupy Wall Street movement. The hacker’s collective also waged cyberwar against the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the police stations associated with the Michael Brown shooting, and child pornography websites, such as “Lolita City.” Furthermore, just a few days after the terrorist attacks in Paris, Anonymous announced its social media driven campaign against ISIS, better known as Operation Paris. The campaign was designed to be an all-out attack against the Islamic State, an organization resembling a virus that needed to be annihilated. Anonymous also opened an official #OpParis Twitter account to share updates of the operation. The account links to a text file on Pastebin seemingly outlining Anonymous’ plans. The document includes a list for Anonymous members, Syrian Internet Service Providers, and ISIS-related email and Web servers. With most of the online world watching, Anonymous declared war on ISIS by addressing their acts of terror with threats of retaliation, “We do not forgive. We do not forget, ISIS, it is too late to expect us.” So far Anonymous has gone after various ISIS accounts, as well as websites and e-mail addresses potentially connected to the militant group. However, despite the group’s successful “take down” of 20,000 Twitter accounts of ISIS sympathizers, people remain skeptical about the effectiveness of the attacks launched by the hackers. While they are able to shut down ISIS sites and accounts, they are shutting down sites that could potentially be useful to other intelligence agencies. Critics also claim that some of the social media accounts linked to the group’s activism have nothing to do with ISIS. It is speculated that several Anonymous members are fame mongrels looking to profit from a delicate situation. Regardless of the skepticism circulating Anonymous’ credibility, this wave of civilian-led digital attacks marks a new development for fighting terrorism. Moreover, the fight between Anonymous and ISIS represents the Millennial-generation battle consisting of two opposing forces raised in a social media age. Source:

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