In the shadows of the internet, a group of unknown individuals came together, united by a common goal: to fight for free speech and against injustice. They called themselves Anonymous.
Join me as we delve into the history of Anonymous.
The origin of Anonymous
Our Story begins in 2003 with the popular online messaging forum known as 4chan. Anonymous was essentially the default username given to users and the organization started as a collective of memers and jokers who would conduct group pranks known as raids.
They first caught the attention of the mainstream in 2006 when they infiltrated the Finnish social networking site Habbo and flooded it with large numbers of their avatars which forced regular users out.
This was to strike back at the site’s reported racial profiling of users. Although largely trivial at the beginning it formed the foundation of what anonymous would eventually become. A decentralized loosely-organized group of international hackers.
This led to the group adopting its famous slogan, “We are Anonymous, We are legion, We do not forgive, We do not forget, Expect us”.
Over time, the group began to focus on more political and social issues, and they started to gain attention for their high-profile cyber attacks.
In 2008 they conducted their first form of hacktivism with project Chanology. A retaliation against the Church of Scientology after they sent a cease and desist letter to the gossip blog Gawker.
This was because the site posted an unflattering leaked video of Tom Cruise talking about the religion, laughing hysterically, and just behaving outright strangely.
In response, the anonymous 4chan users launched a DDoS attack against the Scientology website, prank-called its hotlines, and sent black faxes to waste their ink cartridges.
Not to mention, they began to join protestors at various Scientology centers around the world wearing the Guy Fawkes mask known from the movie V for Vendetta. This would become the symbol of anonymous that we know today.
Throughout the following years, their hacktivism continued. In 2010 they conducted Operation Payback. The aim was to target Aiplex Software an Indian company taking down sites that infringed on copyright laws such as Piratebay.
With free speech one of Anonymous’s key tenants, it rubbed them the wrong way. On September 17th they undertook their first DDoS attack and took Aiplex offline for a day.
But it didn’t stop there. They then successfully hacked the Copyright Alliance website and issued the following statement:
“Anonymous is tired of corporate interests controlling the internet and silencing the people’s rights to spread information, but more importantly, the right to SHARE with one another. The RIAA and the MPAA feign to aid the artists and their cause; yet they do no such thing. In their eyes is not hope, only dollar signs. Anonymous will not stand this any longer”
By October 2010 they managed to enforce a downtime of over 500 hours across several key copyright companies. From ACS law in Britain to the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft. Certainly impressive for better or worse.
During this time Wikileaks came under fire after releasing hundreds of thousands of confidential documents from the US government. As a result, the company was cut off from Amazon servers and their major payment providers.
This caught Anonymous attention and they expanded the operation to include Operation Avenge Assange. Once again they used DDoS attacks which took down Mastercard, Visa, and Paypal. All in all, Paypal estimated the attacks cost them over $5 million.
However, this event was not without some harsh consequences for the group. It is estimated that over 20 anonymous hackers were arrested in the Netherlands, the US, and the UK as a result.
Throughout the following decade anonymous would take part in several major events.
Including the arab spring in 2011 when they brought down several key government websites whilst also allowing the censored Tunisian population to browse the internet anonymously and helping dissidents share videos online.
Ultimately, becoming a key player in the uprising. Other notable examples of anonymous include their attacks against ISIS social media in 2015, claiming to have taken down over 5000 Twitter accounts associated with them.
Also in 2020 they hacked the United Nations website and created a web page for Taiwan, a country absent from the organization since 1971. This page contained the Taiwanese Independence flag showing support for their separation from China.
If you want to view this article in a more visual format then please check out my video below:
At the end of the day, the list of their operations is endless and they continue to fight for free speech and target extremist organizations. I hope you found this article useful and thanks for reading it.
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