A man supports anonymous by publicly protesting in his own Guy Fawkes mask.

A man supports anonymous by publicly protesting in his own Guy Fawkes mask.

A new breed of soldiers have grown into the world. Using information as their weapon and the internet as their battleground, they take on countless opponents in their crusade for human rights. These soldiers, better known as hacktivists, have made it their personal goal to launch attacks on those who believe they are above the law.

The term was originally coined in 1996 by a member of The Cult of the Dead Cow known as Omega. The term went viral instantly, yet many people had no idea what it meant. Omega used it to describe hacking for political purposes; later it was defined by another Cult member, Oxblood Ruffin, as “using technology to improve human rights across electronic media.”

When small time internet criminals began using the term to attack larger corporations, Oxblood joined with multiple hacking organizations to define some rules for this growing trend. The first states, “No web defacements. If groups or individuals are lawfully entitled to publish content on the Web, any violation of their right to distribute information is an abridgement of their First Amendment Rights.” This rule pertains to those who had been using Hacktivism as a front, attacking large news corporations freedom of speech rights.

Oxblood continued, “The same goes for Denial of Service (DoS) attacks. There
isn’t a whole lot of difference between disabling a Web server’s ability to provide information ­ even if that information is distasteful ­ and shouting down someone in a town hall meeting.” After establishing these first few rules, as well as a few smaller rules pertaining to coding specifics,The Cult of the Dead Cow prepared their first operation.

To raise awareness for their cause, they chose to bypass the “great firewall of china.” This was a firewall the Chinese used to filter what their citizens could and could not access on the internet. From this operation they created the Peekabooty Software that allowed people to bypass firewalls and reach the free side of the web.

The program was a huge success becoming the main hub for hacktivists until later in the mid­2000’s when Anonymous was founded. Originally created for messing around with the web, the group changed focus, announcing Project Chanology in 2008. The project was a declaration of war, targeting the Church of Scientology for their “Campaign of Misfortune.” Chanology was announced in a Youtube video by a speaker wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. He ominously declared, “We are Anonymous. We are legion. We Do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.”

Anonymous appeared again during 2010 with Operation Avenge Assange. This lashed out at Master Card after they block funding to the website WikiLeaks, a website where obtained

government documents can be posted for the world to see. The group continued on, hacking into a internet security group based out of texas and releasing 200 gigabytes of data to the world. Their movement is slowed when 25 members are arrested in early 2013.

The hacktivist movement took another hefty blow when Aaron Swarz, a renowned Hacktivist hung himself in his apartment after being convicted by the government. The movement was then forced underground, biding it’s time where it sits in wait to this day.

2014 is the new stage for this political battle. The remaining members from hacking groups across the globe have been more active than in all of 2013. With new laws being introduced for nearly every aspect of life, these soldiers may have to take up arms against the corrupt again.