Anonymous still has much to learn and much to do before it can realise its potential
By way of introduction I will start by pointing to two stories I did for Infosecurity Magazine. The first is Bieber Hackers and the Anonymous image problem (7 June 2012), in which I argue that Anonymous will lose the battle for hearts and minds because the general public cannot distinguish between the unprincipled hangers-on (like UGNazi) and the politically motivated Anonymous-proper.
The second story was last week: WikiLeaks starts to publish Syrian emails (6 July 2012). This story introduces the Syria Files, the start of WikiLeaks’ publication of 2.4 million Syrian emails; and I mention that I had been told by Anonymous that the documents had come from their OpSyria campaign.
Between these two articles, Anonymous published its own paper called ‘Operation Rebuild the Hive’. It recognizes some of the image problems:
Anonymous has shown its weak point, EACH OTHER. We have let the world see we can be easily deterred from our main goals by simply turning on each other. Not only have long time friends become enemies, but also we have steered possible New Blood from wanting to join. Do not forget where we come from, Do Not forget why we fight, Do not forget the people who we have helped along the lines. We as a collective must Regroup, Rethink our strategies, and REBUILD not only each other, but ourselves.
Operation Rebuild the Hive
How? Well, much is what you would expect. By supporting newcomers and keeping them safe; by loving one another; by discussing new operations and agreeing them before executing them. But there is another theme that runs through the proposals: Anonymous should be Anonymous – full stop. Everyone should change their Twitter display names to Anonymous “so we can all be one, and not just an individual.” Operations and defacements should “Display the name Anonymous, so that we as a hive can stand out and not just a crew.” And, “we move as ONE. Do not let yours or someone else’s ego get in the way of who and what we are.”
If this approach were adopted, then a major structural problem within Anonymous would be eliminated. If UGNazi, or any other crew, wants to call itself UGNazi – or any other name – it is by definition NOT Anonymous.
But then, later in the day of my second article, Anonymous publicly claimed responsibility for the Syria Files. Its announcement starts with a bit of a put down to my little article in Infosecurity: “there seems to be one very obvious question that no one is asking. Where exactly did WikiLeaks get all these E-Mails? This press release is written and addressed to the media and the world to answer this important un-asked question.” Um, er, actually, I did ask…
However, my bruised ego aside, it continues
On February 5, 2012 at approx. 4:00 PM ET USA an Anonymous Op Syria team consisting of elements drawn from Anonymous Syria, AntiSec (now known as the reformed LulzSec) and the Peoples Liberation Front succeeded in creating a massive breach of multiple domains and dozens of servers inside Syria. This team had been working day and night in shifts for weeks to accomplish this feat. So large was the data available to be taken, and so great was the danger of detection (especially for the members of Anonymous Syria, many of whom are “in country”) that the downloading of this data took several additional weeks.
Anonymous Operation Syria – Press Release
This shows that the lesson hinted at in the Rebuild document has not gone home. Anonymous still talks about AntiSec and LulzSec and Anonymous Syria. The problem is that anybody can claim to be AntiSec or LulzSec or Anonymous Isle of Wight. Surely one small start in protecting the Anonymous image would be the elimination of all crews. If some bieber hacking group calling itself Cr3wP01s0n then claims the kudos and protection of acting in the name of Anonymous in taking down some village charity shop, the world would know, this is not Anonymous.
Anonymous still has much to do before it wins the battle for hearts and minds. And it is a battle it must win if it is to succeed. Anonymous must be seen to be what it really is: a force for the people; not a just bunch of script kiddies out for the lulz.