A couple of months ago, a cousin of mine and I were talking over a few beers about the usual nonsense that we talk about when our conversation veered into a discussion of our respective fields. He was a Communications Major at Eastern University in Pennsylvania already on his senior year. I was also a senior at the UP College of Law. Naturally, my part was over quick (Him: So what do you do?, Me: I read stuff. ) so we mostly talked about whatever it was that he was doing.
Of the many things we (or he) talked about that night, one thing stuck to me. He told me about a fairly recent phenomenon that had been gaining both the public as well as the government’s attention, both good and bad, in the US. Hacktivism.
Some believe, my cousin included, that hacktivism’s inception was influenced largely by a group of online users of the discussion board 4chan.org. Launched on October 1, 2003, its boards were originally used for the posting of pictures and discussion of manga and anime. The development of the now famous subculture involving internet memes is largely attributed to 4chan. Users popularized lolcats, Rickrolling, "Chocolate Rain", Pedobear, and many others.
Memes, however, are not the only things these anonymous users are capable of. They can also choose to swarm a certain website to the point of crashing, just for the heck of it. Youtube has been a regular victim of these users who, at random, would upload porn videos by the thousands. In 2008, Governor Sarah Palin’s email was hacked into by a high school student who was a member of 4chan’s discussion board.
Forget Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, these are your regular geeks. Couch potatoes well-versed in Halo or the latest heroes in DOTA. And yet, by their sheer will and number, coupled by the protection of their anonymity, they are capable of doing such acts.
Over the next few weeks, I intend to channel this growing fascination of mine into a series of entries focused solely on hacktivist groups that have recently wrought havoc in cyberspace.
Nathan Marasigan. Entry No. 1