Amorphous hacktivist network says Toronto Occupiers are exercising their right to speech and should be left alone.
“The brave citizens of Toronto are peaceful and well-mannered Occupiers, and we will not let the City, or the mayor that uses vulgar language in public, get involved. You have said that by next week the Occupiers shall be removed, and we say by next week if you do not change your mind, you shall be removed from the internet.”
So says a video uploaded to YouTube yesterday by Anonymous Operation, the always-changing community of hacktivists perhaps best known for derailing the sites of companies including PayPal and MasterCard, as payback for blocking financial donations to Wikileaks.
Anonymous is, depending on who you ask, anything from a group of cunning cyber-terrorists to a bunch of nerds wearing Guy Fawkes masks trolling for lolz so they can brag about it on 4chan. The truth probably lies somewhere in the middle.
The group (or bunch of subgroups, or… well, nobody’s really sure exactly what Anonymous is or how to define it, because they’re anonymous, except that they’re probably something) first rose to prominence in 2008 when it protested Scientology in cities around the world, including Toronto. Since then the group has further made a name for itself by conducting denial-of-service (DoS) attacks and other hacks on people or organizations deemed “enemies,” as well as assisting in the coordination of public protests worldwide. Anonymous has been particularly involved with the Arab Spring revolutions, conducting attacks on both Egyptian and Tunisian governments during those countries’ revolutions, as well as hacking the Syrian Defense Ministry’s website during the Syrian uprising.
Can Anonymous back up the threats they’ve made against Rob Ford? The only answer is “maybe.” When Anonymous targets someone, the result can vary widely. On the one hand, their takedown of HBGary Federal earlier this year, in which they gained almost total control of that company’s email system, or the recent “Operation Darknet”, which took down a ring of child pornography sites, demonstrate that Anonymous can be mercilessly effective. On the other hand, those moments can be contrasted with their campaign against the Koch brothers, which so far has only resulted in a call to boycott Koch-owned products. Because Anonymous is an amorphous, semi-leaderless organization, it is impossible to predict what they might be able to do against the mayor or the City of Toronto.
Hat tip to Nadia Halim.