Hacktivists join spies and the military

"War never changes” goes the saying, but when it comes to cyber warfare, it seems as though we might have changed something for the worse.

The Register’s John Leyden says feature hacktivism has lost its innocence. From the mischievous shenanigans 4Chan used to pull off (remember prank calling Tom Green into oblivion?), to the endless fighting with ISIS and the US government, what used to be considered harmless fun, then political hacktivism has now turned into all-out cyber warfare, and everyone’s involved.

Not much has changed since the first socially (ir)responsible hacktivism act –the assault on the Church of Scientology back in 2008.

The same methods are being used – DdoS attacks, account hijacks and the stealing and leaking of confidential information are still the main tools of the game.

The participants have also not changed much – they are predominantly young males. But what has changed, according to many but not all observations, is the motivations of attackers and the structure of the organisations to which they are affiliated.

Just look at where the current focal points in the world are today: Ukraine, Iraq/Syria, and occasionally North Korea.

In Ukraine, security watchers are noticing the appearance of "black operations" (black ops) campaigns launched through the internet, with cyber-militias seemingly using military doctrines of plausible deniability.

And ISIS, the rebel group currently in control of large areas of Syria and Iraq, has taken to social media to spread their message and recruit supporters. In response, social media sites such as Twitter have been taking actions to delete accounts used to promote terrorism.

“That may be somewhat exaggerated but what's clear is that we've moved on from mayhem, mischief, 4Chan-related shenanigans and casual acts of vandalism towards hacktivism as an adjunct of information warfare,” concludes Leyden.