The ethics of Anonymous

http://www.channel4.com/news/anonymous-ethical-hackers-or-cyber-criminals

Support for “hacktivist” group Anonymous is at an all-time high. But as Katie Razzall asks, is the group acting out of an anti-authority ethic or simply hacking for its own sake?

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10 thoughts on “The ethics of Anonymous

  1. Sam B says:

    Assignment 4:

    Start by watching the news clip here http://www.channel4.com/news/anonymous-ethical-hackers-or-cyber-criminals and do the reading on the ethics of hacking.

    Now answer the question, Is are the activities of Anonymous examples of ethical hacking or not?

    Give examples to make your point and refer to the principles of ethical hacking discussed in our readings.

    Give one objection to your view and respond.

    750 words

    Due Wed, Feb 26th by noon. Comment here or on OWL.

  2. Sam Horton says:

    The activities of the Hacktivist group known as Anonymous have caused problems both politically and socially. They view themselves as having a universal agenda, and they show this through the adoption of the famous Guy Fawkes mask as seen and popularized in the Hollywood film V For Vendetta in 2006, based of the book published in 1982. While the mission of the character in V For Vendetta was the promotion of social liberation and the defense of basic human rights for the citizens within the book’s fictitious setting, Anonymous has taken a different turn, contradicting what they had originally been thought to represent. In the video article by Katie Razzall titled Anonymous: Ethical Hackers Or Cyber-Criminals?, Martijn Gonlag, former Anonymous hacker, is interviewed on Channel 4 news about his view on Anonymous. He believes that Anonymous has taken a turn for the worse by publishing an individual’s data online, including such activity as exposing people’s credit card numbers and private information. Where Anonymous is usually viewed as a group that can be counted on to promote political unrest by using their hacking skills as a voice for the people, they have ironically used these skills against the people by compromising security through criminal activity. I therefore believe that Anonymous can now be viewed as an ethical group of hackers that has been led down a detrimental road that is very much in opposition to society’s political and social interests. Their unethical and often criminal practices have now directly targeted the public at large instead of just those they believe are opposed the public’s best interests.

    In Marcia J. Wilson’s article titled Is Hacking Ethical? she states that hackers can bring a balance of power via their creative technical skills. Wilson differentiates the criminal hackers, labeled “crackers”, and the hacktivists and hobbyists that practice ethical hacking. I view this practice of labeling types of hackers a difficult one because of the varying viewpoints of different individuals. A specific group’s labeling of a hacker may be directly opposed to another group’s label for that same hacker. Using a cost benefit analysis, there will always be those that benefit from such activity, and those that don’t. A prime example of this is outlined in the article titled Anonymous Shut Down ‘Taiji Cove’ Website Over Dolphin Killings on discovery.com. Anonymous shut down the government website for Wakayama Prefecture because of the village called Taiji Cove where a ‘traditional’ slaughtering of dolphins happens annually. While the rest of the world may see this traditional slaughter as an un-ethical one, which, of course, in today’s society it is, some of those in the Japanese government as well as many Japanese citizens from that area see this as a justified tradition that should continue. From Western society’s viewpoint, Anonymous’ approach to this was justified, but for those in favor of such activity, its attack was not. It is safe to infer that Anonymous picks sides, and of course not everyone will support the side the group chooses. Anonymous therefore can’t be classified as strictly an unethical group. This viewpoint contradicts my original viewpoint, and because of seemingly justified debates from all sides, this should be seen as the primary issue regarding Anonymous, and groups like it. Because our government uses deontological ethics to state that hacking public or private groups is criminal and ethically wrong, does that mean hacking and disrupting groups that slaughter dolphins in foreign countries is ethically wrong? The answer will vary; left wing and right wing views will constantly contradict each other on every move that Anonymous makes. It’s impractical to weigh the effects of such actions on everyone, and as the world rapidly changes, it’s even harder to determine the ethics behind these actions. The future of Anonymous lies in the directions they take, and the leadership they accept. As their social following grows exponentially, so do the prosecutions against Anonymous members. Anonymous will never reach a level of mass appeal in society, nor will they have the ability to create a following of members who are strictly hackers with a positive motive. The activities of Anonymous fall into the matter of opinion, and after a careful analysis of their efforts in breaking barriers and making voices heard, I feel they are a necessary part of social growth. Without Anonymous, and groups like them, clearing a path for society’s voices to be heard, government would have an unequal power distribution, and the voice of the people would likely be suppressed more than it currently is.

  3. Brittany H says:

    The question on if Anonymous is ethical or not must be looked at by each individual case. I believe the core ideology of Anonymous is ethical; the idea that the public has a right to information, and that freedom of speech must be protected. However, this ideology is not always consistent with their actions, which is a result of Anonymous’ lack of organization and leadership. This creates the problem that any citizen wanting to become involved in hacking can join Anonymous. The organization gives the means to perform whatever acts they wish, under what they believe to be a safeguard, which often results in illegal and unethical acts.

    For almost a decade, dozens of hackers, under the name of Anonymous, have stolen and distributed private information from companies and individuals. Although there are several examples of this, there are two in particular that stand out has major crimes. Megaupload, a popular file sharing website, distributed thousands of songs, movies and television shows for years. The website cost networks and producers hundred of millions of dollars in copyrights, pioneering mass Internet piracy. On January 19 2012, the U.S. Justice Department shut down the website, and Anonymous responded by directly attacking the RIAA, MPAA and the FBI, crashing their servers and taking down their websites. This act can only be categorized as virtual terrorism. Not only were they steal and illegally distributing copyrighted material, they also directly attacked the United States government.

    Another example of Anonymous’ power being used unethically is their “Operation Payback”. On April 2, 2011 Anonymous launched an attack on Sony co. The main focus of the attack was on Sony’s PlayStations servers, which they managed to take down for several days. Anonymous not only managed to take down Sony’s online servers, but accessed thousands of private profiles which contained personal information for anyone using PlayStation at the time. On top of all this, Anonymous personally attacked and threatened Sony’s employees and families, which had nothing to do with the conflict other than working for the company. These situations and more are reasons why many of Anonymous’ actions are unethical. Without a core leadership or directive, individual members own ideas of “justice” and “freedom” can twist what the group was originally founded for.

    Yet, there are several cases where anonymous had performed good, ultimately defending and protecting average citizens from corruption and oppression. An example of this is “Operation India” in 2010, where the group came together in support of a civil movement against corruption in India. Other cyber movements include “Operation Nigeria”, where Anonymous joined forces with other groups to protest for the removal of a fuel subsidy imposed on impoverished Nigerians.

    In September of 2012, Anonymous attacked Hong Kong National Education by taking down their National Education Centre website, and creating an online video which leaked and protested the recent establishment of a new core grading curriculum that explained grading procedures as not merit based, but rather based on level of attachment and approval of the Communist Party of China. Anonymous acted ethically because it voiced the opinions of children who could not speak up for themselves, and fought for a respectable cause. The attack on Hong Kong’s education system restored justice in the grading system, and therefore created a more fair education system.

    Anonymous also has also acted in smaller scale, in the John Pike incident, where they released personal information of John Pike, an officer who attacked peaceful protestors. This act would otherwise not of received the media attention it deserved, and protestors would likely not of been given justice for their suffering. Additionally, Anonymous continuously attacks child pornography sites in their movement toward justice, as seen in “Operation Darknet”.

    The intention of Anonymous is ethical, to protect freedom of speech and expose truth. However, as discussed, not every case follows this ideology. This is because Anonymous, as defined by Marcia J. Wilson, is composed of many individual “crackers”, hacktivists, and hobbists, due to freedom of membership in the Anonymous group. Anonymous currently allows anybody to become a member and perform as they wish. In order for Anonymous to function as a completely ethical group, a sort of regulation or leadership must be established. Critics may argue that creating a government over their group, Anonymous will make their “anti-government” actions hypocritical. I argue however, that organization will allow the group to demonstrate the ideal government they would like in society. More importantly, it will allow for more organized actions, and the assurance that every action is truly in line with the group’s goals. In summary, Anonymous can only be ethical if its actions are filtered, which would best be accomplished by an organizational structure.

  4. Jitesh Vyas says:

    Marcia Wilson’s article “Is hacking ethical?” has the fundamental points that need to be considered when determining the ethics of hacking. She concludes that hacking, when properly defined, is an ethical activity. I think it is important to build on ‘when defined properly’ since in defining the space, one layer of complexity has been left out but is very important. She is correct that there are three types of hackers, including hacktivists, hobbyist hackers and research hackers, but in addition to these types understanding a hacker’s motivations are also important. Intention is broken down into three groupings as well: white-hat, grey-hat and black-hat hacking. White-hat hackers have good intentions for society, black-hat hackers have bad intentions for society, and the grey-hat group are in between as they operate for profits and that could be viewed as not truly white-hat. Having clearly identified the types of hackers and their possible intentions, the question of Anonymous – a prominent hacktivist organization – is raised. Are their actions ethical? Based on the readings and understanding of hacking in the above context, I would argue that hacking is still an ethical activity, but hacking for an organization centered on ‘hacktivism’ is not.

    With regards to human rights, hacking fits within the rights to peacefully protest and assemble. For this reason I do feel it is acceptable to pursue hacking as a means of activism. Nevertheless, Anonymous’s actions in particular have been linked to events that are very bad for society. This includes hacking into government data, being connected to terrorist attacks and information theft for items such as credit card or personal contact details. In the news clip the former Anonymous hacker tells Channel4 about how the group has been moving towards more unethical activities like the ones mentioned above, but above all violating privacy. I understand how this aligns in their quest for transparency between people and government, but there could be more creative alternatives which are safer to everyone involved. The group is radical by nature and this is why I would consider a hacktivist organization as unethical. Considering the added layer of hacker’s intention, it is almost impossible to understand what kind of hackers Anonymous attracts, being an open membership organization. The group could be comprised of all black-hat or white-hat hackers, but no one would know due to the organizational structure (or lack thereof). For this reason, one could justifiably point the finger to Anonymous as an unethical organization as it condones these actions and is the figurehead for the collection of all these hackers.

    As a counter, if membership is managed properly, Anonymous could be seen as ethical through active monitoring of who hacks as an Anonymous Hacktivist. This is extremely high barrier however, and full power still remains in the hands of the hacker ultimately.
    I can draw parallels between institutional participation in democracy and participation in Anonymous as an organization. In a democracy, constituents vote for representatives to participate on their behalf in conversations at higher levels of governments. While they represent the people in the conversations they have, Burke’s Trustee Model of Representation says that they are not expected to mirror their constituency’s views exactly if it does not benefit the greater good or is not constructive for the conversation. In comparison, each hacker that is part of Anonymous is skilled enough and has the autonomy to pursue their self-interest as well – the way they choose to exercise this autonomy is where the two contrast. While Anonymous or the government may be pursuing ethical means that better society, any of the hackers in their open membership could pursue a cause that is misaligned from Anonymous’s views, whereas the politicians cannot necessarily do that without being ostracised. Anonymous is built upon being disruptive and to an extent, radical, and the implication of this is that they could not discourage hackers going rogue and destructive. They become hypocritical.

    While in theory any of the hacker types can be considered ethical if they operate as white-hat hackers under Anonymous and pursue ideals that better society, in practice it would break down to each individual and their views on a matter. Thus far the demonstrations of Anonymous’s powers have been destructive to society and until they become constructive, or if they manage their membership, they cannot be considered ethical, but rather radical and unethical.

  5. Lily K says:

    Today, hacking remains to be one the most controversial issues of ethics in the digital world. However, before deciding whether the activities of Anonymous are examples of ethical hacking or not, let us first analyze the basic definition of hacking. Hacking can be defined as “the unauthorized use, or attempts to circumvent or bypass the security mechanisms of an information system or network.” According to this definition, you have been ‘hacked’ if your friend changes your Facebook status to a silly or inappropriate message, and on the extreme end of the spectrum, you have also been hacked if a random individual gains access to your banking information online and shares it with the public without your consent. Although one is more extreme than the other, both situations may be deemed as unethical according to the definition of hacking. However, Marcia Wilson categorizes hackers into three different groups: hacktivists, hobbyist hackers, and research and security hackers. Some individuals may fall into one of these three groups because they do not hack with a malicious intent, and instead allow hacking when it is playful, not harmful, a form of activism, or as a public service exposing weaknesses of a security system.

    According to both the general definition of hacking as well as Wilson’s categories of ethical hacking, the activities of Anonymous that were addressed in the link would be viewed as unethical, and indeed harmful hacking. Firstly, the group began attacking the Dutch government, which then required legal action. Secondly, the group had also apparently gone too far by publishing personal data online such as the identity of individuals, phone numbers and credit card information. Lastly, Anonymous had done this strictly for their own personal enjoyment; which normally could be viewed ‘harmless’ as long as it truly was harmless. However, the group had gained their amusement at the expense of innocent people, which would therefore be considered as unethical hacking.

    Although this example shines a rather negative light on the hacktivist group, they have also been involved in forms of ethical hacking. For example, Anonymous was involved in shutting down the ‘Taiji Cove’ website, as a warning to end the slaughter of the dolphins in Japan. Since many individuals would support the cause, and wish to end the killing of these innocent dolphins, the protest would be viewed in a favourable light and therefore would be considered as an example of ethical hacking. Personally, I strongly believe that this is cruelty against animals, and find the treatment of these dolphins to be inhumane, thus, I would support the ethical hacking actions of the group. However, we must not forget about the individuals at the other end of this equation. This brings me to question the rights of the hacker versus the hacked. We may be ‘team hacker’, however, I am sure that the mayor of Taiji would find the hacking of Anonymous to be rather unethical, offensive, and inappropriate. Hacking will always remain a subject of great controversy; for as long as there is one person doing the hacking, and there is someone on the other end being the hacked victim.

    The case of Taiji Cove is just one example of how hacking may be considered “ethical”. But what about research and security hackers that aim to help organizations by hacking into their websites in order to outline certain flaws in their security system? There are numerous examples that attempt to explain how hacking can benefit individuals in the future. For example, a professional hacker may find their way into an online banking system and access personal information as a way of warning the security team that their website has serious flaws. Although the security team may be thankful for the warning, one could question the act of hacking in general! Should this hacker be rewarded for doing something that they were not supposed to get involved with in the first place? According to the deontology view, “certain kinds of acts are wrong because of the kind of acts they are, the results don’t matter.” In other words, although the outcome may result in a stronger security system, the hacker should not have been snooping around in the first place in attempts of finding a flaw in the system. Even though the hacker may have done so for ‘ethical’ reasons, the problem still remains that he or she was not hired as a professional hacker. The act of hacking in this example would be wrong, whether or not it was supposed to serve for the general good of the public.

  6. Spencer Page says:

    There is a difference between hacking with malicious intent and hacking to gain insight, or to innovate technology. The latter could be viewed as a form of ethical hacking and therefore recognized as an accepted practice. For example, a hacker, who by profession is a network and computer expert, may be hired by a company to deliberately hack into their system to expose vulnerabilities in an effort to correct them. An unethical hacker, on the other hand, would hack into the system to exploit the weakness inherent in the system with the interest of doing harm. Modern society would label the ethical hacker as a “white hat” in contrast to the unethical hacker who would be labeled a “black hat”. These terms have been derived from old Western movies, where the “good guys” were always seen wearing white cowboy hats and the “bad guys” donned black cowboy hats.

    Anonymous is perhaps the most notorious group of hactivists in today’s society, with rapidly increasing publicity and popularity. In fact, support for this group is at an all time high with protests, pranks and online attacks directed towards everything from Governments, to corporations, credit card companies and Scientology. Anonymous has gone against its original philosophy and motives of producing outcomes with beneficial intentions, in favour of a more destructive and exploitative approach, and because of this, I am of the view that the activities of Anonymous can be classified as unethical in nature. In the video article, “Anonymous: ethical hackers or cyber criminals?” news correspondent, Katie Razzall interviewed Martijn Gonlag, a former Anonymous hacktivist, and responsible in part, for bringing down the Dutch prosecutor’s website. When questioned on the activities of Anonymous, Gonlag admits that Anonymous has gone over the limits by publishing personal information online, which goes against their principles of acting for the people. This private data belongs to innocent people, and by exposing the public’s privacy in this way, is evidence of their unethical activity. Over time, Anonymous has changed its image in the eyes of the public by their activities, antics, and pranks relating to political, corporate and government exploitation. The public is beginning to understand that there are no controls in place to govern the actions of groups like Anonymous. There are no checks and balances in place and a frightening reality exists whereby other groups may copy the leader. The power that exists, and the potential consequences that citizens could endure as a fall-out of these activities, is immeasurable.

    In her article entitled “Is hacking ethical?” Marcia Wilson is quick to point out that by definition, hacking (and hackers) should not always be associated with a negative inference. She refers to “hackers with malicious intent” as “crackers”, which is tantamount to unethical. Further, Wilson identifies 3 main so called “buckets” of hackers as follows: The first category is termed “Hacktivists” which describe those who hack in order to fight for political and social causes. These Hacktivists stand up for the greater good of society, in most cases. The second category of hackers is labeled as “Hobbyist Hackers” who hack in order to gain personal insight (learning and sharing with other hobbyists). And lastly, the third category is the “Research and Security Hackers” who are most concerned with discovering gaps in security systems in an effort to properly repair them. Wilson states that “there is continuing debate over the ethics of hiring a former cracker, especially one with a criminal record, and placing him in a position of responsibility,” which is a really interesting issue to consider. I personally believe that hiring an ex “Cracker” would be a very risky undertaking, however I do recognize that there is inherent value in doing so. It is my belief that once a cracker, always a cracker. It’s the thrill of the challenge that is the underlying motivator of crackers, and ethical conduct and “doing right” is not likely part of their core values or characteristics. That said, the value that an expert cracker would bring could be quite massive. Consider this: a former “cracker” knows the system. They have extensive experience in hacking software and systems, making them the ideal candidate to identify vulnerabilities in a current system, and writing the codes to fix them. This would arguably provide the best defense against other hackers at large.

    In sum, I am a firm believer in ethical hacking. Without hackers in this world, innovation in technology would be substantially slower. Hackers break new barriers in technology on a regular basis and enhance the rate at which it continues to grow. As for the activities of Anonymous, although many believe they act in a highly unethical manner, and their practices are untoward, they have successfully tested the limits and paved a way for voices to be heard. While it is clear that not all hacking is met with good intentions, hacking in general is required for technological innovation and social growth.

  7. Jonathan I says:

    Traditionally, hacking has often been associated with crimes like theft, fraud, and vandalism. In the modern digital age, the power of hacking has been channeled into a positive good via its use as a means of protesting against unethical acts of governments and corporations. As the web has become more widely used and influential on today’s society, hacktivism is becoming a more effective way for people to fight back against the wrongdoings of larger entities and get their message out to the world. The group most widely associated with this phenomenon is Anonymous, a hacktivist network that has targeted religious cults, oppressive governments, and corporations who have crossed an ethical line set by Anonymous. I consider the actions of Anonymous to be examples of ethical hacking, as they promote public awareness of important political issues and potential human rights violations. From the perspective of the victims of Anonymous hackings, these acts may seem unethical; however, I believe that the greater good is being promoted by the hacktivism.

    There are many examples of Anonymous hackings that have benefitted the greater good. One of their most positive hackings was when they uncovered the underground child pornography networks and released the identities of over 1000 criminals associated. With this revelation through hacktivism, the wrongdoers have been punished and the spread of illegal material has been halted. By stopping unethical behaviour in this case and many others, Anonymous has demonstrated that their hacks promote the greater good and thus, are ethical.

    Another example was in the recent Steubenville case. In a town that revolved around the high school football team, authorities attempted to cover up a sexual assault by members of the team. Members of Anonymous were catalysts in bringing the case to national attention by releasing private emails and videos of the criminals and obstructers. The newfound national attention brought to light the debate over rape culture, which is an important discussion and educational moment for today’s society. The private documents were also used as evidence in court to eventually convict the criminals involved. Thus, Anonymous’ hacktivism once again fought back against the wrongdoers and promoted the greater good of society.

    The opposing view is that Anonymous has been unethical. Followers of deontological ethics will argue that hacktivism is unethical, as it involves an intrusion of private information, analogous to a real life “break and enter”. In the process of hacktivism, information on the web may be stolen, defaced, or destroyed. Clearly, these actions are against the law and cause harm to the owners of a website. Anonymous also breaks the hacker ethical code which states that hacking is “ethically OK as long as the cracker commits no theft, vandalism, or breach of confidentiality.”
    However, I will argue that the ends justify the means in this case. Hacktivism by Anonymous is a form of protest that raises public awareness of important issues, which is a positive good. As mentioned above, Anonymous leaks have also been integral in capturing criminals, making their actions even more valuable to society as a whole. Also, by showing corporations and governments that evil will not be tolerated, hacktivism by Anonymous acts as a deterrent for future corruption. Though the means are unlawful, the end result benefits the greater good, making the actions ethical by the utilitarian view. Also, I believe that the intentions of Anonymous are virtuous, as they primarily target their hackings towards those who have done wrong in their eyes. Opposing those who commit evil is a valiant act in the name of good, so hacktivism is ethical when we consider the character of Anonymous. In conclusion, I would consider the actions of Anonymous to be ethical as they result in a positive good for society and they are virtuous in character.

  8. Aaron Macrae says:

    The hacktivists group called Anonymous is a faction of individuals that base public stunts against government and corporate websites. A hacktivist group is a group who will hack as a form of political activism. The Channel 4 news video covers Anonymous when their popularity was at an all time high. The video interviews an ex member of Anonymous and his opinions on the group, stating how he thinks the group has gone too far by publishing individuals’ data online.

    An ethical hacker for example can be a computer and network expert who attacks a security system on behalf of its owners, seeking vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could exploit. To test a security system, ethical hackers use the same methods as their less principled counterparts, but report problems instead of taking advantage of them. Ethical hacking is also known intrusion testing and red teaming. Ethical hackers are essentially the cops; they have to think like the robbers to catch the robbers.

    The group Anonymous that is behind online attacks believe they’re fighting for something that’s right on a basic, human level and I can respect that conviction in a compassionate ideology. I can respect their desire to instigate change, even if I don’t condone the way they go about it. Although, I also believe that there comes a time when protest is essential to instigating change. So, while I don’t necessarily agree with what the protestors are doing or the methods they are allegedly choosing, I can see what they believe they’re fighting against and I can sympathize with that.
    Ethical hackers are trained professionals who are hired by companies to hack into their networks and find these loopholes in their systems and try and give solutions for these loopholes in such systems. There are three types of hacking categories; in the cyber world they classify them in different coloured hats. The first one is the white hat, which is normally the good guys and the ethical hackers discussed above. The second is the black hat, which are the bad guys and they are the hackers who hack information for pure profit and Individual gains or they can hack the information and publish it online that can be used later on by the good guys or the bad guys. The third category is the grey hat, they are the hackers that hack for fun and can change minor things on a website but pose no actual threat.

    As the Channel 4 news video stated there has been many occasions where Anonymous has hacked personal information and posted it online for the public. Personally even if this occurrence happened once, which is has not, I would still be neutral for Anonymous to be ethical hackers. Ethical hackers are put in place to help the general public and organizations from the possibility of a breach of personal information from hackers. If Anonymous is posting personal information of individuals online for good guys or bad guys regardless it is wrong. But they have also done many positive things that go unnoticed by the press.

    As far as I am concerned, anonymous is anonymous; they are everybody and nobody of the Internet. A force of randomly selected individuals from different origins of the world with different motives all collected under one common goal. To me, they are not a secret spy/terrorist organization. They are not even an organization. ‘Anonymous’ is merely a mask that can be worn by any faction with any agenda. If I were to “Support/Oppose” anonymous, to me this would like going out into the street to meet complete strangers and saying “I support/oppose you, even though I had no idea who you are and what you are doing…”

    All I can do is either agree or disagree with specific individual actions that that Anonymous undertakes. Either way, they don’t alter my neutral impression of anonymous because I know that the people who did Operation Darknet could be an entirely different organization that the people who did Project Chanology and so on so forth.

  9. Aaron Macrae says:

    The hacktivists group called Anonymous is a faction of individuals that base public stunts against government and corporate websites. A hacktivist group is a group who will hack as a form of political activism. The Channel 4 news video covers Anonymous when their popularity was at an all time high. The video interviews an ex member of Anonymous and his opinions on the group, stating how he thinks the group has gone too far by publishing individuals’ data online.

    An ethical hacker for example can be a computer and network expert who attacks a security system on behalf of its owners, seeking vulnerabilities that a malicious hacker could exploit. To test a security system, ethical hackers use the same methods as their less principled counterparts, but report problems instead of taking advantage of them. Ethical hacking is also known intrusion testing and red teaming. Ethical hackers are essentially the cops; they have to think like the robbers to catch the robbers.

    The group Anonymous that is behind online attacks believe they’re fighting for something that’s right on a basic, human level and I can respect that conviction in a compassionate ideology. I can respect their desire to instigate change, even if I don’t condone the way they go about it. Although, I also believe that there comes a time when protest is essential to instigating change. So, while I don’t necessarily agree with what the protestors are doing or the methods they are allegedly choosing, I can see what they believe they’re fighting against and I can sympathize with that.

    Ethical hackers are trained professionals who are hired by companies to hack into their networks and find these loopholes in their systems and try and give solutions for these loopholes in such systems. There are three types of hacking categories; in the cyber world they classify them in different coloured hats. The first one is the white hat, which is normally the good guys and the ethical hackers discussed above. The second is the black hat, which are the bad guys and they are the hackers who hack information for pure profit and Individual gains or they can hack the information and publish it online that can be used later on by the good guys or the bad guys. The third category is the grey hat, they are the hackers that hack for fun and can change minor things on a website but pose no actual threat.

    As the Channel 4 news video stated there has been many occasions where Anonymous has hacked personal information and posted it online for the public. Personally even if this occurrence happened once, which is has not, I would still be neutral for Anonymous to be ethical hackers. Ethical hackers are put in place to help the general public and organizations from the possibility of a breach of personal information from hackers. If Anonymous is posting personal information of individuals online for good guys or bad guys regardless it is wrong. But they have also done many positive things that go unnoticed by the press.

    As far as I am concerned, anonymous is anonymous; they are everybody and nobody of the Internet. A force of randomly selected individuals from different origins of the world with different motives all collected under one common goal. To me, they are not a secret spy/terrorist organization. They are not even an organization. ‘Anonymous’ is merely a mask that can be worn by any faction with any agenda. If I were to “Support/Oppose” anonymous, to me this would like going out into the street to meet complete strangers and saying “I support/oppose you, even though I had no idea who you are and what you are doing…”

    All I can do is either agree or disagree with specific individual actions that that Anonymous undertakes. Either way, they don’t alter my neutral impression of anonymous because I know that the people who did Operation Darknet could be an entirely different organization that the people who did Project Chanology and so on so forth.

  10. Eric Pattara says:

    Hacking in the modern world is an occurrence in which users will manipulate digital information for either personal or social gain. The hactivist group, known as Anonymous, has gained notoriety for their numerous exploits in the online world, where they they have used their seemingly limitless number of resources and manpower to attack others in the pursuit of a social order in accordance to their beliefs. Such groups that they have stood against include the Church of Scientology, the Westboro Baptist Church, Sony, and a number of other organizations and companies. In the video titled, Anonymous: Ethical Hackers or Cyber-criminals, Katie Razzall takes a look at the group’s activities and speaks to former member Martijn Gonlag in order to analyze whether their work could be considered ethically justified or simply a means by which to commit criminal acts behind the large guise that is Anonymous. I believe that while the group has made actions which (in their eyes) are in the pursuit of a greater good, their means by doing which often occur at the expense of others and through illegal means, meaning that their form of hacking could not be considered ethical, on a large scale at least.
    In the video, Razzall takes a look at the group known as Anonymous and their numerous acts of cyber activism. While there is no official head of the organization, Anonymous is composed of countless hackers located across the globe of all ages and backgrounds. Since they are a global organization with a universal agenda, it is hard to analyze the legality of their actions on a large scale, and those who are apprehended will only be capable of facing charges relating to their specific crimes. The early activities of the group may have indicated that they were a variety of ethical hackers, in pursuit of seeking social justice against organizations that promote hate or unethical activities. An ongoing example of this would be Anonymous’ war on Scientology, them being against the social misconducts that the Church represents. However, in recent days, it appears as though the group is taking advantage of their increasing numbers and resources, and using them to expand their activities beyond that of social justice. Former Anonymous hactivist Martijn Gonlag, who was apprehended for his actions and is currently serving community service, believes that they have gone too far since they have gotten to the point of taking the personal information of individuals (such as credit card information) and posting it online for the world to see as a way of attacking those who oppose them. There are organizations, such as the Westboro Baptist Church, for example, that operate by means of spreading their messages of hate and disgust for their country and its citizens, that Anonymous have targeted for the purpose of cutting off their resources. This, however, is not in line with the entirety of the group’s intentions, as a significant portion of Anonymous serves to simply target individuals in the most brutal cyber means as possible.
    In the article titled, Is Hacking Ethical, Marcia Wilson attempts to demonstrate the difference between criminal hacking and that which could be considered ethical and, in most cases a form of artwork. Essentially, whether or not the hacking could be considered ethical would be dependent on the end goal associated with the work, and that if the hacking leads to an overall good, then it is ethical. This can be seen as an objection which works in favour of Anonymous’ activities, as their primary goals are associated with promoting a social order which opposes the powerful organizations that use intimidation and fear to control the public. Seeing as they have moved past this in recent times and have resorted to acts that could be labelled as nothing other than bullying and mass harassment, the good acts that they do cannot justify the personal violations which they have made by stealing and abusing the information of individuals across the world. Anonymous are not ethical hackers, as they do not have a singular goal associated with good moral conduct. They attack sporadically and in a variety of ways which demonstrate a lack of control, as demonstrated with their recent excessive and invasive forms of hacking. Anonymous can be compared to the mythical Hydra, constantly growing fiercer, which brings forth concerns as to where they draw the line in their work.

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