Against my better judgment…a Hacktivist cause I like!

Why is it that we only need make the most innocent of unequivocal statements and suddenly things pop up everywhere to prove us wrong?

Last week I gave a presentation to a partner of ours.  I was discussing the state of cybercrime and some of the most urgent threats.  On the subject of Hactivism I said, “these guys are the unruly mob of the internet.  The problem is, their attacks aren’t based on any consistent principle – any bored hacker can jump in and join the fun – so if you are working with clients who are on the shadier side of what is politically correct, Hacitivists (hackers for a cause) are a concern.”

Besides the fact that what they do is illegal, at least some Hacktivists seem to demonstrate a naïve perspective on complex issues (for example, I’m don’t think it’s reasonable to expect paypal or ebay to have a conscience).  So I have to admit I’ve not been much on their side.  But this weekend I read an article in Security Week about an attack I agree with.  It’s about Anonymous (probably the most well-known Hacktivist group) breaking into the Ugandan government’s main web server and posting a fake press release.  Who knew Anonymous had such a sense of humor?

Right now Uganda has legislation on the table which mandates death for all homosexuals.  Really.  So Anonymous hacked the government’s main website and posted a missive purportedly from the Prime Minister.  It was essentially an apology to all gays.

Imagine the government’s upset!  How dare someone represent them in such a fashion!  They’re horrifyingly proud of their bigotry.

So what’s not to love about this particular exploit?

Of course I’m a Californian, and we do lean way left in certain ways.  We love fluffy baby seals (but not as articles of clothing), we want to save the dolphins  and we hate oil slicks on our shores.  We’re also okay if the entire population of American gays come and live in San Francisco.  It’s a “live and let live” kind of thing.  So hearing about the Ugandan government’s perspective – well, let’s just say I wouldn’t shed a tear if hackers disabled their entire internet infrastructure and sent the government back to the dark ages they obviously came from.  But not to forget: I’m in anti-cybercrime, so I can only applaud silently, and please don’t tell my boss.

Also – it’s not hard for an avenger to morph into a bully, so let’s just hope Anonymous adhere to some set of principles.  Let’s hope as their power increases (which it seems to be doing)  they have more of Robin Hood’s steady ethics and less of Jim Jones corruptibility.  And no matter what, their actions do make a person ponder: does hacking have any sort of legitimate place in policing the world?

Oh and you people over there at Anon!  Do let me know if the fun ever starts with freeing women in Saudi Arabia.    That one I’d particularly enjoy watching.



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One Response to “Against my better judgment…a Hacktivist cause I like!”

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