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Bieber Hackers and the Anonymous image problem

07 June 2012

Anonymous is engaged in a war against the abuse of authority. This concept has general appeal. But the very structure of Anonymous, and the inevitable internecine strife, means it will likely lose the battle for ‘hearts and minds’.

Anonymous says it is an idea rather than an organization. That means that joining merely requires the statement, “I am Anonymous”. The result is that the Anonymous collective comprises innumerable ‘cells’, each with their own specific philosophy, attitudes and ambitions. These are often contradictory.

CommanderX famously tweeted: “Anonymous Principles; 1) Don’t attack media. 2) Don’t attack infrastructure. 3) Work non-violently for internet freedom …History, and the collective consensus decided these principles (they are NOT rules)."

But this is not universally accepted even as principles within Anonymous. Anon Winston Smith told Infosecurity, “We won’t attack media is nonsense; the problem is that media is the problem.” Smith justifies his stance in an article currently on the anonateam website, commenting, “The media controls the way the world sees itself to maintain the state’s control over a people with limited resources.”

It is such internal disagreements that prevent the general public properly understanding Anonymous. There has been a more recent example. The cyberguerilla websites were unavailable for several days. Visitors merely saw a banner saying, “This Account Has Been Suspended.” Had the suspension been by the FBI or ICE or SOCA, the notice would have been more extensive, including the organization’s logo. Infosecurity asked Anonymous what had happened, and was told, “Jester.”

Following the principle of action and reaction, Jester is a reaction to Anonymous – he claims to be on the side of ‘right’ and law and order; but whether he likes it or not, he (or she) is also part of Anonymous. He is one of the more advanced hackers – an Uber Hacker. He objects to mainstream Anonymous – and for this reason he famously and successfully attacked WikiLeaks. Now there is a continuing struggle between the rest of Anonymous and Jester. But why take out Cyberguerilla?

“UGNAZI [another anonymous cell, UnderGround Nazi] are linked to that site,” Anonymous said. “UGNAZI attacked ‘Wounded Warriors’ because Jester supports them. This is Jester retaliating.” Few people would consider that Wounded Warriors does anything but good; but here is Anonymous (or a part of it) attacking an honorable organization because, as one member told SoftPedia, “I have a personal thing with Jester. I just don’t like him or anything he supports.”

“The UGNAZI issue unfortunately is not an intelligent one,” (mainstream) Anonymous told Infosecurity. “They are what we call Bieber Hackers. They just want to prove themselves. They target celeb websites which are not well protected for kudos. It’s more like the wild west analogy: you have the well-known gunslinger in town, and you have the new guy wanting to build a name.”

The problem for Anonymous is that there is nothing it can do about the problem of Anonymous Bieber Hackers without denying its own unwritten constitution; and it is the Bieber Hackers that will lose Anonymous the battle for hearts and minds.

This article is featured in:
Internet and Network Security


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