Trend Micro's Rik Ferguson says latest hacking developments are down to hacking evolution – not revolution

The idea of a hacking group, he says, is certainly not a new phenomenon, in fact they began to flourish in the early eighties, the early days of home computing, acting as a forum for members to share information, learn and compare skills.

"Early groups bore names such as Legion of Doom, Cult of the Dead Cow or Masters of Deception and specialised not only in the nascent internet hacking scene and are responsible for the birth of hacktivism, but also in the perhaps dying are of [phone] phreaking", he said.

"The nineties saw the rise of a different kind of hacking group, L0pht Heavy Industries who operated more as a research organisation, providing software tools for penetration and security testing and issuing advisories", he added.

According to Ferguson, this group also famously testified to the US Congress that they could take down the entire internet in under 30 minutes back in 1998.

"L0pht later merged with @stake, who were eventually acquired by Symantec", he noted, adding that now in the noughties we have witnessed the rise of Anonymous, and more recently LulzSec.

Instead of being a relatively closed group, Trend Micro's director of research says that Anonymous instead actively sought the participation of the general public when they began their actions in support of Wikileaks.

Because of this, he asserts, tens of thousands of volunteers are downloading tools which enable them to participate in the global assault on businesses with whom they feel personally aggrieved.

The latest versions of this tool (LOIC), he says, includes functionality which means the user can hand of control of their weaponised computer to a central authority (Anonymous) to better direct and control the attacks.

"LulzSec on the other had maintain the tradition of the closed group, and according to their own web site have no motivation but anarchy", he explained.

Of course, Ferguson goes on to say, similar groups have emerged around the world in places as far flung as Pakistan and India, where there is fierce competition between the groups.

In Romania groups such as HackersBlog have hit various companies, whilst in China and Russia, many hackers are believed to act as proxies for their governments.

None of these developments says Ferguson, represents a global online meltdown, or the end of the internet economy or national security as we know it.

"Like everything else in this world we can trace a simple process of evolution at work here. Security companies, individuals and enterprises must evolve to keep pace and just maybe learn some of the lessons that some of these guys have been teaching us for years now", he says in his latest security blog.

"Encrypt your data, develop securely, configure correctly, test your defences effectively, use complex passwords, shield your vulnerabilities and build your systems under the assumption that a breach will happen", he adds.

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