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Anonymous is a
decentralized Decentralization or decentralisation is the process by which the activities of an organization, particularly those regarding planning and decision making, are distributed or delegated away from a central, authoritative location or group. Concep ...
international activist/
hacktivist In Internet activism, hacktivism, or hactivism (a portmanteau of ''Hack (computer security), hack'' and ''activism''), is the use of computer-based techniques such as Security hacker, hacking as a form of civil disobedience to promote a political a ...
collective A collective is a group of entities that share or are motivated by at least one common issue or interest, or work together to achieve a common objective. Collectives can differ from cooperative A cooperative (also known as co-operative, c ...
/movement that is widely known for its various cyber attacks against several
governments A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state. In the case of its broad associative definition, government normally consists of legislature A legislature is a deliberative assemb ...
, government institutions and
government agencies A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of government The machinery of government (sometimes abbreviated as MoG) is the interconnected structures and proce ...
, corporations, and the
Church of Scientology The Church of Scientology is a group of interconnected corporate entities and other organizations devoted to the practice, administration and dissemination of Scientology Scientology is a set of beliefs and practices invented by Americ ...
. Anonymous originated in 2003 on the
imageboard An imageboard is a type of that revolves around the posting of images, often alongside text and discussion. The first imageboards were created in as an extension of the concept. These sites later inspired the creation of a number of imageboa ...
4chan 4chan is an anonymous English-language imageboard An imageboard is a type of that revolves around the posting of images, often alongside text and discussion. The first imageboards were created in as an extension of the concept. These si ...

4chan
representing the concept of many online and offline community users simultaneously existing as an anarchic, digitized
global brain The global brain is a neuroscience-inspired and futurological vision of the planetary information and communications technology network Network and networking may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media * ''Network'' (1976 film), a 1976 Ameri ...

global brain
. Anonymous members (known as ''Anons'') can be distinguished in public by the wearing of
Guy Fawkes mask
Guy Fawkes mask
s in the style portrayed in the graphic novel and film ''
V for Vendetta ''V for Vendetta'' is a British graphic novel A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word "novel" normally refers to long fictional works, the term "graphic novel" is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fict ...
''. However, this may not always be the case as some of the collective prefer to instead cover their face without using the well-known mask as a disguise. Some anons also opt to mask their voices through
voice changer The term voice changer (also known as voice enhancer) refers to a device which can change the tone or pitch of or add distortion to the user's voice, or a combination and vary greatly in price and sophistication. A kazoo/ didgeridoo can be used as ...
s or
text-to-speech Speech synthesis is the artificial production of human speech Speech is human vocal communication using language. Each language uses Phonetics, phonetic combinations of vowel and consonant sounds that form the sound of its words (that is, all ...

text-to-speech
programs. In its early form, the concept was adopted by a decentralized
online community An online community, also called an internet community or web community, is a community whose members interact with each other primarily via the Internet. Members of the community usually share common interests. For many, online communities may fee ...
acting anonymously in a coordinated manner, usually toward a loosely self-agreed goal and primarily focused on entertainment (or
lulz LOL, or lol, is an initialism for laughing out loud and a popular element of Internet slang. It was first used almost exclusively on Usenet, but has since become widespread in other forms of computer-mediated communication and even Face-to-fac ...
). Beginning with
Project Chanology Project Chanology (also called Operation Chanology) was a protest movement against the practices of the Church of Scientology by members of Anonymous (group), Anonymous, a leaderless Internet-based group. The project was started in response to ...
in 2008—a series of protests, pranks, and hacks targeting the
Church of Scientology The Church of Scientology is a group of interconnected corporate entities and other organizations devoted to the practice, administration and dissemination of Scientology Scientology is a set of beliefs and practices invented by Americ ...
—the Anonymous collective became increasingly associated with collaborative hacktivism on a number of issues internationally. Individuals claiming to align themselves with Anonymous undertook protests and other actions (including direct action) in retaliation against copyright-focused campaigns by motion picture and recording industry trade associations. Later targets of Anonymous hacktivism included government agencies of the United States, Israel, Tunisia, Uganda and others; the
Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant {{Infobox war faction , name = Islamic State , anthem = '' Dawlat al-Islam Qamat'' {{small, ("My Ummah ' ( ar, أمة ) is an Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are ...
; child pornography sites; copyright protection agencies; the
Westboro Baptist Church Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an American hyper-Calvinist hate group. It is known for engaging in Protests by Westboro Baptist Church, inflammatory homophobic and anti-American pickets, as well as hate speech Discrimination against atheists ...
; and corporations such as
PayPal PayPal Holdings, Inc. is an American multinational financial technology company operating an online payments system in the majority of countries that support online money transfers, and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional pape ...

PayPal
,
MasterCard#REDIRECT Mastercard Mastercard Incorporated (stylized as MasterCard from 1979 to 2016 and mastercard since 2016) is an American multinational financial services Financial services are the Service (economics), economic services provided by the ...

MasterCard
,
Visa Visa most commonly refers to: *Visa Inc., a US multinational financial and payment cards company ** Visa Debit card issued by the above company ** Visa Electron, a debit card ** Visa Plus, an interbank network *Travel visa, a document that allows e ...
, and
Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from mult ...

Sony
. Anons have publicly supported
WikiLeaks WikiLeaks () is an international non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public o ...
and the
Occupy movement The Occupy movement was an international left-wing populist socio-political movement that expressed opposition to social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whe ...
. Related groups
LulzSec Lulz Security, commonly abbreviated as LulzSec, was a black hat computer hacking group that claimed responsibility for several high profile attacks, including the compromise of user accounts from PlayStation Network in 2011. The group also cla ...
and
Operation AntiSec Operation Anti-Security, also referred to as Operation AntiSec or #AntiSec, is a series of hacker (computer security), hacking attacks performed by members of the hacking group LulzSec and Anonymous (group), Anonymous, and others inspired by the ...
carried out cyberattacks on U.S. government agencies, media, video game companies, military contractors, military personnel, and police officers, resulting in the attention of law enforcement to the groups' activities. Dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks in countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, India, and Turkey. Evaluations of the group's actions and effectiveness vary widely. Supporters have called the group "freedom fighters" and digital
Robin Hood Robin Hood is a legendary hero File:Wilhelm Tell Denkmal Altdorf um 1900.jpeg, upWilliam Tell, a popular folk hero of Switzerland. A hero (heroine in its feminine form) is a real person or a main fictional character who, in the face ...

Robin Hood
s while critics have described them as "a cyber lynch-mob" or "cyber terrorists". In 2012, ''
Time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
'' called Anonymous one of the " 100 most influential people" in the world. Anonymous' media profile diminished by 2018, but the group re-emerged in 2020 to support the
George Floyd protests The George Floyd protests are ongoing protests against police brutality Police brutality is the excessive and unwarranted use of force by law enforcement File:CBP female officers going aboard a ship.jpg, upU.S. Customs and Border Prote ...
.


Philosophy

Internal dissent is also a regular feature of the group. A website associated with the group describes it as "an Internet gathering" with "a very loose and decentralized command structure that operates on ideas rather than directives".
Gabriella Coleman Enid Gabriella Coleman (usually known as Gabriella Coleman or Biella; born 1973) is an anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Soc ...
writes of the group: "In some ways, it may be impossible to gauge the intent and motive of thousands of participants, many of who don't even bother to leave a trace of their thoughts, motivations, and reactions. Among those that do, opinions vary considerably." Broadly speaking, Anons oppose Internet censorship and control and the majority of their actions target governments, organizations, and corporations that they accuse of censorship. Anons were early supporters of the global
Occupy movement The Occupy movement was an international left-wing populist socio-political movement that expressed opposition to social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social whe ...
and the
Arab Spring The Arab Spring ( ar, الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low stand ...
. Since 2008, a frequent subject of disagreement within Anonymous is whether members should focus on pranking and entertainment or more serious (and, in some cases, political) activism. Because Anonymous has no leadership, no action can be attributed to the membership as a whole.
Parmy Olson Parmy Olson is a tech journalist for ''The Wall Street Journal.'' While at "Forbes" magazine, she was known for her work on the hacktivist movement Anonymous (group), Anonymous. She describes herself as covering "agitators and innovators in mobil ...
and others have criticized media coverage that presents the group as well-organized or homogeneous; Olson writes, "There was no single leader pulling the levers, but a few organizational minds that sometimes pooled together to start planning a stunt." Some members protest using legal means, while others employ illegal measures such as DDoS attacks and hacking. Membership is open to anyone who wishes to state they are a member of the collective; British journalist
Carole Cadwalladr Carole Jane Cadwalladr (; born 1969) is a British author, investigative journalist and features writer. She is a features writer for '' The Observer'' and formerly worked at ''The Daily Telegraph ''The Daily Telegraph'', known online and els ...
of ''
The Observer ''The Observer'' is a British newspaper published on Sundays. In the same place on the political spectrum A political spectrum is a system to characterize and classify different in relation to one another. These positions sit upon one ...

The Observer
'' compared the group's decentralized structure to that of
al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda (; ar, القاعدة ', , translation: "The Base", "The Foundation", alternatively spelled al-Qaida and al-Qa'ida) is a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national terrorist organization founded in 1988. by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah ...
: "If you believe in Anonymous, and call yourself Anonymous, you are Anonymous." Olson, who formerly described Anonymous as a "brand", stated in 2012 that she now characterized it as a "movement" rather than a group: "anyone can be part of it. It is a crowd of people, a nebulous crowd of people, working together and doing things together for various purposes." The group's few rules include not disclosing one's identity, not talking about the group, and not attacking media. Members commonly use the tagline "We are Anonymous. We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us." Brian Kelly writes that three of the group's key characteristics are "(1) an unrelenting moral stance on issues and rights, regardless of direct provocation; (2) a physical presence that accompanies online hacking activity; and (3) a distinctive brand." Journalists have commented that Anonymous' secrecy, fabrications, and media awareness pose an unusual challenge for reporting on the group's actions and motivations.
Quinn Norton Quinn Norton (born May 1973) is an American journalist and essayist An essay is, generally, a piece of writing that gives the author's own argument, but the definition is vague, overlapping with those of a Letter (message), letter, a term ...

Quinn Norton
of ''
Wired ''Wired'' (stylized as ''WIRED'') is a monthly American magazine, published in print and online magazine, online editions, that focuses on how emerging technologies affect culture, the economy, and politics. Owned by Condé Nast, it is headquar ...
'' writes that: "Anons lie when they have no reason to lie. They weave vast fabrications as a form of performance. Then they tell the truth at unexpected and unfortunate times, sometimes destroying themselves in the process. They are unpredictable." Norton states that the difficulties in reporting on the group cause most writers, including herself, to focus on the "small groups of hackers who stole the limelight from a legion, defied their values, and crashed violently into the law" rather than "Anonymous’s sea of voices, all experimenting with new ways of being in the world".


History


4chan raids (2003–2007)

The name Anonymous itself is inspired by the perceived anonymity under which users post images and comments on the Internet. Usage of the term Anonymous in the sense of a shared identity began on
imageboard An imageboard is a type of that revolves around the posting of images, often alongside text and discussion. The first imageboards were created in as an extension of the concept. These sites later inspired the creation of a number of imageboa ...
s, particularly the /b/ board of
4chan 4chan is an anonymous English-language imageboard An imageboard is a type of that revolves around the posting of images, often alongside text and discussion. The first imageboards were created in as an extension of the concept. These si ...

4chan
, dedicated to random content, dedicated to raiding other websites. A tag of Anonymous is assigned to visitors who leave comments without identifying the originator of the posted content. Users of imageboards sometimes jokingly acted as if Anonymous was a single individual. The concept of the Anonymous entity advanced in 2004 when an administrator on the 4chan image board activated a "Forced_Anon" protocol that signed all posts as Anonymous. As the popularity of imageboards increased, the idea of Anonymous as a collective of unnamed individuals became an
Internet meme An Internet meme, more commonly known simply as a meme ( ), is an idea, behavior, or style that is spread via the Internet, often through social media platforms and especially for humorous purposes. What is considered a meme may vary across di ...
. Users of 4chan's /b/ board would occasionally join into mass pranks or raids. In a raid on July 12, 2006, for example, large numbers of 4chan readers invaded the Finnish social networking site
Habbo Hotel ''Habbo'' (formerly known as ''Habbo Hotel'') is an online community An online community, also called an internet community or web community, is a community whose members interact with each other primarily via the Internet. Members of the com ...
with identical avatars; the avatars blocked regular Habbo members from accessing the digital hotel's pool, stating it was "closed due to fail and AIDS". Future LulzSec member
Topiary Topiary is the horticultural practice of training perennial plants by clipping the foliage and twigs of trees, shrubs and subshrubs to develop and maintain clearly defined shapes, whether geometric or fanciful. The term also refers to plants w ...
became involved with the site at this time, inviting large audiences to listen to his prank phone calls via
Skype Skype () is a Proprietary software, proprietary telecommunications application that specializes in providing VoIP-based videotelephony, videoconferencing and voice calls. It also has instant messaging, file transfer, debit and credit, debit-bas ...

Skype
. Due to the growing traffic on 4chan's board, users soon began to plot pranks offline using
Internet Relay Chat Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is a text-based chat (instant messaging Instant messaging (IM) technology is a type of online chat Online chat may refer to any kind of communication over the Internet that offers a real-time text, real-time t ...
(IRC). These raids resulted in the first mainstream press story on Anonymous, a report by
Fox Foxes are small to medium-sized, s belonging to several of the family . They have a flattened skull, upright triangular ears, a pointed, slightly upturned , and a long bushy (or ''brush''). Twelve belong to the "true foxes" group of ge ...
station
KTTV KTTV, Virtual channel, virtual and very high frequency, VHF Digital terrestrial television, digital channel 11, is the West Coast of the United States, West Coast flagship (broadcasting), flagship station of the Fox Broadcasting Company, Fox te ...
in Los Angeles, California in the U.S. The report called the group "hackers on steroids", "domestic terrorists", and an "Internet hate machine".


Encyclopedia Dramatica (2004–present)

Encyclopedia Dramatica was founded in 2004 by Sherrod DiGrippo, initially as a means of documenting gossip related to
livejournal LiveJournal (russian: Живой Журнал), stylised as LiVEJOURNAL, is a Russian-owned social networking service A social networking service or SNS (sometimes called a social networking site) is an online platform which people use to bu ...
, but it quickly was adopted as a major platform by Anonymous for parody and other purposes. The not safe for work site celebrates a
subversive Subversion (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
"
trolling In Internet slang, a troll is a person who starts Flamewars, flame wars or intentionally upsets people on the Internet. This is typically done by posting inflammatory and digressive, wikt:extraneous#Adjective, extraneous, or off-topic messages ...
culture", and documents
Internet memes An Internet meme, more commonly known simply as a meme ( ), is a type of idea, behavior, or style ( meme) that is spread via the Internet The Internet (Capitalization of Internet, or internet) is the global system of interconnected ...
,
culture Culture () is an umbrella term which encompasses the social behavior and Norm (social), norms found in human Society, societies, as well as the knowledge, beliefs, arts, laws, Social norm, customs, capabilities, and habits of the individuals i ...
, and events, such as mass pranks, trolling events, "raids", large-scale failures of Internet security, and criticism of Internet communities that are accused of
self-censorship Self-censorship is the act of censoring or classifying one's own discourse Discourse is a generalization of the notion of a conversation Conversation is interactive communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to s ...
to gain prestige or positive coverage from traditional and established media outlets. Journalist Julian Dibbell described Encyclopædia Dramatica as the site "where the vast parallel universe of Anonymous in-jokes, catchphrases, and obsessions is lovingly annotated, and you will discover an elaborate trolling culture: Flamingly racist and misogynist content lurks throughout, all of it calculated to offend." The site also played a role in the anti-
Scientology Scientology is a set of beliefs and practices invented by American author L. Ron Hubbard, and an associated movement. It has been variously defined as a cult In modern English, a cult is a social group In the social sciences, a s ...

Scientology
campaign of
Project Chanology Project Chanology (also called Operation Chanology) was a protest movement against the practices of the Church of Scientology by members of Anonymous (group), Anonymous, a leaderless Internet-based group. The project was started in response to ...
. On April 14, 2011, the original URL of the site was redirected to a new website named ''Oh Internet'' that bore little resemblance to Encyclopedia Dramatica. Parts of the ED community harshly criticized the changes. In response, Anonymous launched "Operation Save ED" to rescue and restore the site's content. The Web Ecology Project made a downloadable archive of former Encyclopedia Dramatica content. The site's reincarnation was initially hosted at encyclopediadramatica.ch on servers owned by Ryan Cleary, who later was arrested in relation to attacks by
LulzSec Lulz Security, commonly abbreviated as LulzSec, was a black hat computer hacking group that claimed responsibility for several high profile attacks, including the compromise of user accounts from PlayStation Network in 2011. The group also cla ...
against Sony.


Project Chanology (2008)

Anonymous first became associated with
hacktivism In Internet activism Internet activism is the use of electronic communication technologies such as social media, e-mail, and podcasts for various forms of activism to enable faster and more effective communication by citizen social movement, movem ...
in 2008 following a series of actions against the
Church of Scientology The Church of Scientology is a group of interconnected corporate entities and other organizations devoted to the practice, administration and dissemination of Scientology Scientology is a set of beliefs and practices invented by Americ ...
known as Project Chanology. On January 15, 2008, the gossip blog
Gawker ''Gawker'' is an American blog A blog (a truncation In mathematics and computer science, truncation is limiting the number of numerical digit, digits right of the decimal point. Truncation and floor function Truncation of positive ...

Gawker
posted a video in which celebrity Scientologist
Tom Cruise Thomas Cruise Mapother IV (born July 3, 1962) is an American actor and producer. One of the world's highest-paid actors, he has received various accolades throughout his career, including three Golden Globe Awards The Golden Globe Awar ...
praised the religion; and the Church responded with a cease-and-desist letter for violation of copyright. 4chan users organized a raid against the Church in retaliation, prank-calling its hotline, sending
black faxThe term black fax refers to a prank fax transmission, consisting of one or more pages entirely filled with a uniform black tone. The sender's intention is generally to use up as much of the recipient's fax ink, toner, or thermal paper as possible ...
es designed to waste ink cartridges, and launching
DDoS In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and experimentation of algorithmic processes and development of both computer hardware , hardware and s ...
attacks against its websites. The DDoS attacks were at first carried out with the Gigaloader and JMeter applications. Within a few days, these were supplanted by the
Low Orbit Ion Cannon Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) is an open-source network stress testing and denial-of-service attack In computing Computing is any goal-oriented activity requiring, benefiting from, or creating computing machinery. It includes the study and e ...
(LOIC), a network stress-testing application allowing users to flood a server with TCP or
UDP UDP may refer to: Political parties * Ulster Democratic Party, in Northern Ireland * ''União Democrática Popular'' (People's Democratic Union (Portugal)) * ''Unidad Democrática y Popular'' (Democratic and Popular Union), a former Bolivian umbr ...
packets. The LOIC soon became a signature weapon in the Anonymous arsenal; however, it would also lead to a number of arrests of less experienced Anons who failed to conceal their
IP address An Internet Protocol address (IP address) is a numerical label such as that is connected to a computer network A computer network is a set of s sharing resources located on or provided by . The computers use common s over to communi ...
es. Some operators in Anonymous IRC channels incorrectly told or lied to new volunteers that using the LOIC carried no legal risk. During the DDoS attacks, a group of Anons uploaded a YouTube video in which a robotic voice speaks on behalf of Anonymous, telling the "leaders of Scientology" that "For the good of your followers, for the good of mankind—for the laughs—we shall expel you from the Internet." Within ten days, the video had attracted hundreds of thousands of views. On February 10, thousands of Anonymous joined simultaneous protests at Church of Scientology facilities around the world. Many protesters wore the stylized s popularized by the graphic novel and film ''
V for Vendetta ''V for Vendetta'' is a British graphic novel A graphic novel is a book made up of comics content. Although the word "novel" normally refers to long fictional works, the term "graphic novel" is applied broadly and includes fiction, non-fict ...
'', in which an anarchist revolutionary battles a totalitarian government; the masks soon became a popular symbol for Anonymous. In-person protests against the Church continued throughout the year, including "Operation Party Hard" on March 15 and "Operation Reconnect" on April 12. However, by mid-year, they were drawing far fewer protesters, and many of the organizers in IRC channels had begun to drift away from the project.


Operation Payback (2010)

By the start of 2009, Scientologists had stopped engaging with protesters and had improved online security, and actions against the group had largely ceased. A period of infighting followed between the politically engaged members (called "moralfags" in the parlance of 4chan) and those seeking to provoke for entertainment (trolls). By September 2010, the group had received little publicity for a year and faced a corresponding drop in member interest; its raids diminished greatly in size and moved largely off of IRC channels, organizing again from the chan boards, particularly /b/. In September 2010, however, Anons became aware of Aiplex Software, an Indian software company that contracted with film studios to launch DDoS attacks on websites used by copyright infringers, such as
The Pirate Bay The Pirate Bay (sometimes abbreviated as TPB) is an BitTorrent#Indexing, online index of digital content of entertainment media and software. Founded in 2003 by Swedish think tank Piratbyrån, The Pirate Bay allows visitors to search, download ...

The Pirate Bay
. Coordinating through IRC, Anons launched a DDoS attack on September 17 that shut down Aiplex's website for a day. Primarily using LOIC, the group then targeted the
Recording Industry Association of America The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) is a trade organization A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and funded by busin ...
(RIAA) and the
Motion Picture Association of America The Motion Picture Association (MPA) is an American trade association A trade association, also known as an industry trade group, business association, sector association or industry body, is an organization founded and funded by business ...
(MPAA), successfully bringing down both sites. On September 19, future LulzSec member Mustafa Al-Bassam (known as "Tflow") and other Anons hacked the website of Copyright Alliance, an anti-infringement group, and posted the name of the operation: "Payback Is A Bitch", or "Operation Payback" for short. Anons also issued a press release, stating:
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.
As IRC network operators were beginning to shut down networks involved in DDoS attacks, Anons organized a group of servers to host an independent IRC network, titled AnonOps. Operation Payback's targets rapidly expanded to include the British law firm ACS:Law, the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft, the British nightclub
Ministry of Sound Ministry of Sound or Ministry of Sound Group is a multimedia Multimedia is a form of communication that combines different such as , , , , or into a single interactive presentation, in contrast to ...
, the Spanish copyright society
Sociedad General de Autores y Editores The Spanish Society of Authors and Publishers (''Sociedad General de Autores y Editores, SGAE'') is the main collecting society Copyrights can either be licensed or assigned by the owner of the copyright. A copyright collective (also known as a cop ...
, the U.S. Copyright Office, and the website of
Gene Simmons Gene Simmons (born Chaim Witz, . August 25, 1949) is an Israeli-American musician, singer and songwriter. Also known by his stage persona The Demon, he is the bassist and co-lead singer of Kiss A kiss is the touch or pressing of one's li ...

Gene Simmons
of
Kiss A kiss is the touch or pressing of one's lips against another person or an object. Cultural connotations of kissing vary widely. Depending on the culture and context, a kiss can express sentiments of love Love encompasses a range of str ...
. By October 7, 2010, total downtime for all websites attacked during Operation Payback was 537.55 hours. In November 2010, the organization
WikiLeaks WikiLeaks () is an international non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, public o ...
began releasing hundreds of thousands of leaked U.S. diplomatic cables. In the face of legal threats against the organization by the U.S. government,
Amazon.com Amazon.com, Inc. ( ) is an American multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from multiple countries * Multinational ...
booted WikiLeaks from its servers, and
PayPal PayPal Holdings, Inc. is an American multinational financial technology company operating an online payments system in the majority of countries that support online money transfers, and serves as an electronic alternative to traditional pape ...

PayPal
,
MasterCard#REDIRECT Mastercard Mastercard Incorporated (stylized as MasterCard from 1979 to 2016 and mastercard since 2016) is an American multinational financial services Financial services are the Service (economics), economic services provided by the ...

MasterCard
, and
Visa Visa most commonly refers to: *Visa Inc., a US multinational financial and payment cards company ** Visa Debit card issued by the above company ** Visa Electron, a debit card ** Visa Plus, an interbank network *Travel visa, a document that allows e ...
cut off service to the organization. Operation Payback then expanded to include "Operation Avenge ", and Anons issued a press release declaring PayPal a target. Launching DDoS attacks with the LOIC, Anons quickly brought down the websites of the PayPal blog;
PostFinance PostFinance is the financial services unit of Swiss Post which was founded in 1906. It is the fifth largest Retail banking, retail financial institution in Switzerland. Its main area of activity is in the national and international payment system, ...
, a Swiss financial company denying service to WikiLeaks;
EveryDNS EveryDNS.net was one of the world's largest free Domain Name System, DNS management services, at one time providing DNS services for over 135,000 domains, for over a decade, ending in 2011. History EveryDNS was founded in June 2001 by David Ulevi ...
, a web-hosting company that had also denied service; and the website of U.S. Senator
Joe Lieberman Joseph Isadore Lieberman (; born February 24, 1942) is an American politician, lobbyist, and attorney who served as a United States Senator The United States Senate is the upper chamber of the United States Congress The Uni ...

Joe Lieberman
, who had supported the push to cut off services. On December 8, Anons launched an attack against PayPal's main site. According to Topiary, who was in the command channel during the attack, the LOIC proved ineffective, and Anons were forced to rely on the
botnet A botnet is a number of Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected s that uses the (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and devices. It is a ' that consists of private, public, academic, business, ...

botnet
s of two hackers for the attack, marshaling hijacked computers for a concentrated assault. Security researcher Sean-Paul Correll also reported that the "zombie computers" of involuntary botnets had provided 90% of the attack. Topiary states that he and other Anons then "lied a bit to the press to give it that sense of abundance", exaggerating the role of the grassroots membership. However, this account was disputed. The attacks brought down PayPal.com for an hour on December 8 and another brief period on December 9. Anonymous also disrupted the sites for Visa and MasterCard on December 8. Anons had announced an intention to bring down Amazon.com as well, but failed to do so, allegedly because of infighting with the hackers who controlled the botnets. PayPal estimated the damage to have cost the company US$5.5 million. It later provided the IP addresses of 1,000 of its attackers to the
FBI The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is the domestic intelligence Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, cre ...

FBI
, leading to at least 14 arrests. On Thursday, December 5, 2013, 13 of the PayPal 14 pleaded guilty to taking part in the attacks.


2011–2012

In the years following Operation Payback, targets of Anonymous protests, hacks, and DDoS attacks continued to diversify. Beginning in January 2011, Anons took a number of actions known initially as Operation Tunisia in support of
Arab Spring The Arab Spring ( ar, الربيع العربي) was a series of anti-government protests, uprisings, and armed rebellions that spread across much of the Arab world in the early 2010s. It began in response to oppressive regimes and a low stand ...
movements. Tflow created a script that Tunisians could use to protect their web browsers from government surveillance, while fellow future LulzSec member
Hector Xavier Monsegur Hector Xavier Monsegur (born 1983), known also by the online pseudonym Sabu (pronounced Sensitive but unclassified, Sə'buː, Sæ'buː), is an American Cracker (computer security), computer hacker and co-founder of the hacking group LulzSec. Facing ...
(alias "Sabu") and others allegedly hijacked servers from a London web-hosting company to launch a DDoS attack on Tunisian government websites, taking them offline. Sabu also used a Tunisian volunteer's computer to hack the website of Prime Minister
Mohamed Ghannouchi Mohamed Ghannouchi ( ar, محمد الغنوشي ''Muhammad Al-Ghannushi''; born 18 August 1941) is a Tunisian politician who was Prime Minister of Tunisia The prime minister of Tunisia (informally abbreviated to PM) is the Head of government, he ...

Mohamed Ghannouchi
, replacing it with a message from Anonymous. Anons also helped Tunisian dissidents share videos online about the uprising. In Operation Egypt, Anons collaborated with the activist group to help dissidents access government-censored websites. Sabu and Topiary went on to participate in attacks on government websites in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Jordan, and Zimbabwe. Tflow, Sabu, Topiary, and Ryan Ackroyd (known as "Kayla") collaborated in February 2011 on a cyber-attack against Aaron Barr, CEO of the computer security firm HBGary Federal, in retaliation for his research on Anonymous and his threat to expose members of the group. Using a
SQL injection SQL injection is a code injection Code injection is the exploitation of a computer bug A software bug is an error, flaw or fault in a computer program A computer program is a collection of instructions that can be executed by a co ...

SQL injection
weakness, the four hacked the HBGary site, used Barr's captured password to vandalize his Twitter feed with racist messages, and released an enormous cache of HBGary's e-mails in a
torrent file In the BitTorrent file distribution system, a torrent file or meta-info file is a computer file A computer file is a computer resource for recording data Data are units of information Information can be thought of as the resolutio ...
on Pirate Bay. The e-mails stated that Barr and HBGary had proposed to
Bank of America The Bank of America Corporation (simply referred to as Bank of America, often abbreviated as BofA or BoA) is an American multinational investment bank Investment is the dedication of an asset to attain an increase in value over a period o ...

Bank of America
a plan to discredit WikiLeaks in retaliation for a planned leak of Bank of America documents, and the leak caused substantial public relations harm to the firm as well as leading one U.S. congressman to call for a congressional investigation. Barr resigned as CEO before the end of the month. Several attacks by Anons have targeted organizations accused of homophobia. In February 2011, an open letter was published on AnonNews.org threatening the
Westboro Baptist Church Westboro Baptist Church (WBC) is an American hyper-Calvinist hate group. It is known for engaging in Protests by Westboro Baptist Church, inflammatory homophobic and anti-American pickets, as well as hate speech Discrimination against atheists ...
, an organization based in
Kansas Kansas () is a U.S. state, state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. Its Capital city, capital is Topeka and its largest city is Wichita, Kansas, Wichita. Kansas is a landlocked state bordered by Nebraska to the north; ...

Kansas
in the U.S. known for picketing funerals with signs reading "God Hates Fags". During a live radio current affairs program in which Topiary debated church member
Shirley Phelps-Roper Shirley Lynn Phelps-Roper (born October 31, 1957) is an American lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usually abbreviated in everyday speech to attor ...
, Anons hacked one of the organization's websites. After the church announced its intentions in December 2012 to picket the funerals of the
Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut Newtown is a town A town is a human settlement. Towns are generally larger than villages and smaller than city, cities, though the crit ...
victims, Anons published the names, phone numbers, and e-mail and home addresses of church members and brought down GodHatesFags.com with a DDoS attack. Hacktivists also circulated petitions to have the church's tax-exempt status investigated. In August 2012, Anons hacked the site of Ugandan Prime Minister
Amama Mbabazi John Patrick Amama Mbabazi, Senior Counsel, SC (simply known as Amama Mbabazi, born 16 January 1949) is a Ugandan politician who served as the ninth Prime Minister of Uganda from 24 May 2011 to 19 September 2014. He played an instrumental role i ...

Amama Mbabazi
in retaliation for the
Parliament of Uganda The unicameral In government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly ...
's consideration of an anti-homosexuality law permitting capital punishment. In April 2011, Anons launched a series of attacks against
Sony , commonly known as Sony and stylized as SONY, is a Japanese multinational Multinational may refer to: * Multinational corporation, a corporate organization operating in multiple countries * Multinational force, a military body from mult ...

Sony
in retaliation for trying to stop hacks of the
PlayStation 3 The PlayStation 3 (PS3) is a home video game console A home video game console is a video game console that is designed to be connected to a display device, such as a television, and an external power source as to play video games. Home c ...
game console. More than 100 million Sony accounts were compromised, and the Sony services Qriocity and
PlayStation Network PlayStation Network (PSN) is a digital media entertainment service provided by Sony Interactive Entertainment. Launched in November 2006, PSN was originally conceived for the PlayStation video game consoles, but soon extended to encompass smartp ...
were taken down for a month apiece by cyberattacks. In August 2011, Anons launched an attack against
BART Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) is a rapid transit Rapid transit or mass rapid transit (MRT), also known as heavy rail, metro, subway, tube, , , metropolitana or underground, is a type of high-capacity generally found in s. Unlike es o ...
in San Francisco, which they dubbed #OpBart. The attack, made in response to the killing of Charles Hill a month prior, resulted in customers' personal information leaked onto the group's website. When the
Occupy Wall Street Occupy Wall Street (OWS) was a protest Social movement, movement against economic inequality and the Campaign finance, influence of money in politics that began in Zuccotti Park, located in New York City's Financial District, Manhattan, Wall S ...

Occupy Wall Street
protests began in New York City in September 2011, Anons were early participants and helped spread the movement to other cities such as
Boston Boston (, ), officially the City of Boston, is the capital city, capital and List of municipalities in Massachusetts, most populous city of the Commonwealth (U.S. state), Commonwealth of Massachusetts in the United States and 21st List of Unit ...

Boston
. In October, some Anons attacked the website of the
New York Stock Exchange The New York Stock Exchange (NYSE, nicknamed "The Big Board") is an American stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange Exchange may refer to: Places United States * Exchange, Indiana Exchange is an U ...

New York Stock Exchange
while other Anons publicly opposed the action via Twitter. Some Anons also helped organize an Occupy protest outside the
London Stock Exchange London Stock Exchange (LSE) is a stock exchange A stock exchange, securities exchange, or bourse is an exchange Exchange may refer to: Places United States * Exchange, Indiana Exchange is an Unincorporated area, unincorporated community ...
on May 1, 2012. Anons launched Operation Darknet in October 2011, targeting websites hosting
child pornography Child pornography (also called CP, child sexual abuse material, CSAM, child porn, or kiddie porn) is pornography that exploits children for sexual stimulation. It may be produced with the direct involvement or sexual assault of a child (also kn ...
. In particular, the group hacked a child pornography site called " Lolita City" hosted by Freedom Hosting, releasing 1,589 usernames from the site. Anons also said that they had disabled forty image-swapping pedophile websites that employed the anonymity network Tor. In 2012, Anons leaked the names of users of a suspected child porn site in OpDarknetV2. Anonymous launched the #OpPedoChat campaign on Twitter in 2012 as a continuation of Operation Darknet. In attempt to eliminate child pornography from the internet, the group posted the emails and IP addresses of suspected pedophiles on the online forum PasteBin. In 2011, the
Koch Industries Koch Industries, Inc. () is an American Privately held company, privately-held Multinational corporation, multinational Conglomerate (company), conglomerate corporation based in Wichita, Kansas. Its subsidiaries are involved in the manufacturing ...
website was attacked following their attack upon union members, resulting in their website being made inaccessible for 15 minutes. In 2013, one member, a 38-year-old truck driver, pleaded guilty when accused of participating in the attack for a period of one minute, and received a sentence of two years federal probation, and ordered to pay $183,000 restitution, the amount Koch stated they paid a consultancy organisation, despite this being only a denial of service attack. On January 19, 2012, the U.S.
Department of Justice A justice ministry, ministry of justice, or department of justice is a ministry or other government agency A government or state agency, sometimes an appointed commission, is a permanent or semi-permanent organization in the machinery of governme ...
shut down the file-sharing site
Megaupload Megaupload Ltd was a Hong Kong Hong Kong (; , ), officially the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People's Republic of China (HKSAR), is a city A city is a large human settlement.Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictio ...

Megaupload
on allegations of copyright infringement. Anons responded with a wave of DDoS attacks on U.S. government and copyright organizations, shutting down the sites for the RIAA, MPAA,
Broadcast Music, Inc. Broadcast Music, Inc. (BMI) is a performing rights organization in the United States. It collects license fees from businesses that use music on behalf of songwriters, composers, and Music publisher (popular music), music publishers and distributes ...
, and the FBI. In April 2012, Anonymous hacked 485
Chinese government The Government of the People's Republic of China () is collectively the state authority in the People's Republic of China China (), officially the People's Republic of China (PRC; ), is a country in East Asia East Asia is the e ...
websites, some more than once, to protest the treatment of their citizens. They urged people to "fight for justice, fight for freedom, fight for democracy". In 2012, Anonymous launched Operation Anti-Bully: Operation Hunt Hunter in retaliation to Hunter Moore's revenge porn site, "Is Anyone Up?" Anonymous crashed Moore's servers and publicized much of his personal information online, including his social security number. The organization also published the personal information of Andrew Myers, the proprietor of "Is Anyone Back", a copycat site of Moore's "Is Anyone Up?" In response to
Operation Pillar of Defense In November 2012, the Israel Defense Forces The Israel Defense Forces (IDF; he, צְבָא הַהֲגָנָה לְיִשְׂרָאֵל , ''lit.'' "The Army of Defense for Israel"; ar, جيش الدفاع الإسرائيلي), commonly kn ...

Operation Pillar of Defense
, a November 2012 Israeli military operation in the
Gaza Strip The Gaza Strip (;The New Oxford Dictionary of English (1998) – p.761 "Gaza Strip /'gɑːzə/ a strip of territory under the control of the Palestinian National Authority and Hamas, on the SE Mediterranean coast including the town of Gaza.. ...
, Anons took down hundreds of Israeli websites with DDoS attacks. Anons pledged another " massive cyberassault" against Israel in April 2013 in retaliation for its actions in Gaza City, Gaza, promising to "wipe Israel off the map of the Internet". However, its DDoS attacks caused only temporary disruptions, leading cyberwarfare experts to suggest that the group had been unable to recruit or hire botnet operators for the attack.


2013


Million Mask March

On November 5, 2013, Anonymous protesters gathered around the world for the Million Mask March. Demonstrations were held in 400 cities around the world to coincide with Guy Fawkes Night. This has not been the only march; there have been quite a few others over the years, such as the 2015 march, which formed into a riot and went out of control in London, UK.


#OpOk

Operation Oklahoma was a Mutual Aid effort responding to the 2013 flash floods and wind storms in the United States.


Operation Safe Winter

Operation Safe Winter was an effort to raise awareness about homelessness through the collection, collation, and redistribution of resources. This program began on November 7, 2013 after an online call to action from Anonymous UK. Three missions using a charity framework were suggested in the original global spawning a variety of direct actions from used clothing drives to pitch in community potlucks feeding events in the UK, US and Turkey. The #OpSafeWinter call to action quickly spread through the mutual aid communities like Occupy Wall Street and its offshoot groups like the open-source-based OccuWeather. With the addition of the long-term mutual aid communities of New York City and online hacktivists in the US, it took on an additional three suggested missions. Encouraging participation from the general public, this operation has raised questions of privacy and the changing nature of the Anonymous community's use of monikers. The project to support those living on the streets while causing division in its own online network has been able to partner with many efforts and organizations not traditionally associated with Anonymous or online activists.


2014


Shooting of Michael Brown

In the wake of the Shooting of Michael Brown, fatal police shooting of unarmed African-American Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, "Operation Ferguson"—a Hacktivism, hacktivist organization that claimed to be associated with Anonymous—organized cyberprotests against police, setting up a website and a Twitter account to do so. The group promised that if any protesters were harassed or harmed, they would attack the city's servers and computers, taking them offline. City officials said that e-mail systems were targeted and phones died, while the Internet crashed at the City Hall. Prior to August 15, members of Anonymous corresponding with ''Mother Jones (magazine), Mother Jones'' said that they were working on confirming the identity of the undisclosed police officer who shot Brown and would release his name as soon as they did. On August 14, Anonymous posted on its Twitter feed what it claimed was the name of the officer involved in the shooting. However, police said the identity released by Anonymous was incorrect. Twitter subsequently suspended the Anonymous account from its service. It was reported on November 19, 2014, that Anonymous had declared cyber war on the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) the previous week, after the KKK had made death threats following the Ferguson riots. They hacked the KKK's Twitter account, attacked servers hosting KKK sites, and started to release the personal details of members.


Shooting of Tamir Rice

On November 24, 2014, Anonymous shut down the Cleveland city website and posted a video after Shooting of Tamir Rice, Tamir Rice, a twelve-year-old boy armed only with a BB gun, was shot to death by a police officer in a Cleveland park. Anonymous also used BeenVerified to uncover the phone number and address of a police officer involved in the shooting.


2015


''Charlie Hebdo'' shootings

In January 2015, Anonymous released a video and a statement via Twitter condemning Charlie Hebdo shooting, the attack on ''Charlie Hebdo'', in which 12 people, including eight journalists, were fatally shot. The video, claiming that it is "a message for
al-Qaeda Al-Qaeda (; ar, القاعدة ', , translation: "The Base", "The Foundation", alternatively spelled al-Qaida and al-Qa'ida) is a militant Sunni Islamist multi-national terrorist organization founded in 1988. by Osama bin Laden, Abdullah ...
, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Islamic State and other terrorists", was uploaded to the group's Belgian account. The announcement stated that "We, Anonymous around the world, have decided to declare war on you, the terrorists" and promises to avenge the killings by "shut[ting] down your accounts on all social networks." On January 12, they brought down a website that was suspected to belong to one of these groups. Critics of the action warned that taking down extremists' websites would make them harder to monitor.


Anti-Islamic "Reclaim Australia" rally

Anonymous opposed Anti-Islamic Reclaim Australia rallies and described it as "an extreme right-wing group inciting religious hatred." It also promised to organize counter-rallies on April 4, 2015.


Operation CyberPrivacy

On June 17, 2015, Anonymous claimed responsibility for a Denial of Service attack against Canadian government websites in protest of the passage of bill Anti-terrorism Act, 2015, C-51—an anti-terror legislation that grants additional powers to Canadian intelligence agencies. The attack temporarily affected the websites of several federal agencies.


Operation KKK

On October 28, 2015, Anonymous announced that it would reveal the names of up to 1,000 members of the Ku Klux Klan and other affiliated groups, stating in a press release, "You are terrorists that hide your identities beneath sheets and infiltrate society on every level. The privacy of the Ku Klux Klan no longer exists in cyberspace." On November 2, a list of 57 phone numbers and 23 email addresses (that allegedly belong to KKK members) was reportedly published and received media attention. However, a tweet from the "@Operation_KKK" Twitter account the same day denied it had released that information The group stated it planned to, and later did, reveal the names on November 5.


#OpSaudi

Since 2013, Saudi Arabian Hacktivism, hacktivists have been targeting government websites protesting the actions of the regime. These actions have seen attacks supported by the possibly Iranian backed Yemen Cyber Army.


#OpISIS

In 2015, an offshoot of Anonymous self-described as Ghost Security or GhostSec started targeting Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, Islamic State-affiliated websites and social media handles.


#OpParis

In November 2015, Anonymous announced a major, sustained operation against ISIS following the November 2015 Paris attacks, declaring, "Anonymous from all over the world will hunt you down. You should know that we will find you and we will not let you go." ISIS responded on Telegram (software), Telegram by calling them "idiots", and asking "What they hack?" By the next day, however, Anonymous claimed to have taken down 3,824 pro-ISIS Twitter accounts, and by the third day, more than 5,000, and to have doxxing, doxxed recruiters. A week later, Anonymous increased their claim to 20,000 accounts and released a list of the accounts. The list included the Twitter accounts of Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, ''The New York Times'' and BBC News. The BBC reported that most of the accounts on the list appeared to be still active. A spokesman for Twitter told ''The Daily Dot'' that the company is not using the lists of accounts being reported by Anonymous, as they have been found to be "wildly inaccurate" and include accounts used by academics and journalists.


#OpNASADrones

In 2015, a group that claims affiliation with Anonymous group, calling themselves as AnonSec, claimed to have hacked and gathered almost 276 GB of data from NASA servers including NASA flight and radar logs and videos, and also multiple documents related to ongoing research. AnonSec group also claimed gaining access of a Global Hawk Drone of NASA, and released some video footage purportedly from the drone's cameras. A part of the data was released by AnonSec on Pastebin service, as an Anon Zine. NASA has denied the hack, asserting that the control of the drones were never compromised, but has acknowledged that the photos released along with the content are real photographs of its employees, but that most of these data are already available in the public domain.


2016


#BoycottThailand: Thailand jail hack

The Blink Hacker Group, associating themselves with the Anonymous group, claimed to have hacked the Thailand prison websites and servers. The compromised data has been shared online, with the group claiming that they give the data back to Thailand Justice and the citizens of Thailand as well. The hack was done in response to news from Thailand about the mistreatment of prisoners in Thailand.


2016 US presidential election

In March 2016, Anonymous was reported to have declared war on Donald Trump. However, the "Anonymous Official" YouTube channel released a video denouncing #OpTrump as an operation that "goes against everything Anonymous stands for" in reference to censorship and added "we are for everyone letting their voices be heard, even, if the person at hand ... is a monster." Anonymous was also reported to have declared war on Hillary Clinton. Various outlets claiming to represent Anonymous have released attacks on the Clinton campaign. In late 2017, QAnon, a pro-Trump group claiming to be the "real" Anonymous, first emerged on 4chan. In response, anti-Trump members of Anonymous warned that QAnon was stealing the collective's branding.


South African corruption

A group calling themselves ''Anonymous Africa'' launched a number of DDoS attacks on websites associated with the controversial South African Gupta family in mid-June 2016. Gupta-owned companies targeted included the websites of Oakbay Investments, The New Age (South African newspaper), The New Age, and ANN7. The websites of the South African Broadcasting Corporation and a political parties Economic Freedom Fighters and Zimbabwe's ZANU–PF, Zanu-PF were also attacked for "nationalist socialist rhetoric and politicising racism."


2020


United Nations hack

In February 2020, Anonymous hacked the United Nations' website and created a page for Taiwan, a country which has not had a seat at the UN China and the United Nations, since 1971. The hacked page featured the Flag of Taiwan, the KMT emblem, a Taiwan Independence flag, and the Anonymous logo along with a caption. The hacked server belonged to the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs.


Killing of George Floyd

In the wake of protests across the U.S following the killing of George Floyd, Anonymous released a video on Facebook as well as sending it out to the Minneapolis Police Department on May 28, 2020, titled "Anonymous Message To The Minneapolis Police Department", in which they state that they are going to seek revenge on the Minneapolis Police Department, and "expose their crimes to the world". According to Bloomberg L.P., Bloomberg, the video was initially posted on an unconfirmed Anonymous Facebook page on May 28. According to BBC News, that same Facebook page had no notoriety and published videos of dubious content linked to UFOs and "China's plan to take over the world". It gained repercussions after the video about George Floyd was published and the Minneapolis police website, which is responsible for the police officer, was down. Later, Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said that every computer in the region suffered a sophisticated attack. According to BBC News, the attack on the police website using DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) was unsophisticated. According to researcher Troy Hunt, these breaches of the site may have happened from old credentials. Regarding unverified Twitter posts that also went viral, where radio stations of police officers playing music and preventing communication are shown, experts point out that this is unlikely to be due to a hack attack – if they are real. Later, it was confirmed by CNET that the leaks made from the police website are false and that someone is taking advantage of the repercussions of George Floyd's death to spread misinformation.


Trump-Epstein rape lawsuit and other high-profile accusations

On May 31, 2020, a person or group claiming to be part of the Anonymous collective tweeted that they have uploaded a number of documents to the Scribd account OpDeathEaters that contain incriminating evidence against Donald J. Trump, U.S. President Donald J. Trump and Jeffrey Epstein in multiple cases of paedophilia, rape and sexual assault. According to what they found Epstein and Trump were co-defendants in the one case. They further claimed to have evidence that the British royal family had Princess Diana murdered because she had incriminating evidence against the royal family's involvement in a sex-trafficking ring. Other high-profile accusations involved Bill Gates and Naomi Campbell. Anonymous, issued an open letter to Gates. In the letter, Anonymous claimed Gates had advocated for strict measures, including a surveillance system that could track infected people. Anonymous said: "In the midst of a historical pandemic, much of the world is looking to you for solutions, and it seems that this is no mistake, because you have positioned yourself as the Nostradamus of disease." Gates recently suggested implementing a "national tracking system similar to South Korea" during an online Ask Me Anything (AMA) session on Reddit. Gates also advocated for social distancing as a viable way to reduce the number of infections. Later the same day most of these tweets disappeared from their accounts, but continued circulating as screenshots on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit. Another accusation is that Epstein is connected to deaths of Michael Jackson, Kurt Cobain, Avicii, Paul Walker, Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell and Marilyn Monroe, Marylin Monroe, claiming that they were murdered by Epstein's pedophile ring.


Operation Nigeria

In 2020, Anonymous started cyber-attacks against the Nigerian government. They started the operation to support the EndSARS, #EndSARS movement in Nigeria. The group's attacks were tweeted by a member of Anonymous called LiteMods. The websites of EFCC, INEC and various other Nigerian government websites were taken-down with DDoS attacks. The websites of some banks were compromised. A video spread around claiming that Anonymous gave the Nigerian government 72 hours, but some Anonymous members denied this.


Related groups


LulzSec

In May 2011, the small group of Anons behind the HBGary Federal hack—including Tflow, Topiary, Sabu, and Kayla—formed the hacker group "Lulz Security", commonly abbreviated "LulzSec". The group's first attack was against Fox.com, leaking several passwords, LinkedIn profiles, and the names of 73,000 ''The X Factor (US TV series), X Factor'' contestants. In May 2011, members of Lulz Security gained international attention for hacking into the American Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) website. They stole user data and posted a fake story on the site that claimed that rappers Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls were still alive and living in New Zealand. LulzSec stated that some of its hacks, including its attack on PBS, were motivated by a desire to defend WikiLeaks and its informant Chelsea Manning. In June 2011, members of the group claimed responsibility for an attack against Sony Pictures that took data that included "names, passwords, e-mail addresses, home addresses and dates of birth for thousands of people." In early June, LulzSec hacked into and stole user information from the Internet pornography, pornography website www.pron.com. They obtained and published around 26,000 e-mail addresses and passwords. On June 14, 2011, LulzSec took down four websites by request of fans as part of their "Titanic Take-down Tuesday". These websites were ''Minecraft'', ''League of Legends'', ''The Escapist (magazine), The Escapist'', and IT security company ''FinFisher''. They also attacked the login servers of the multiplayer online game ''EVE Online'', which also disabled the game's front-facing website, and the ''League of Legends'' login servers. Most of the takedowns were performed with distributed denial-of-service attack, DDoS attacks. LulzSec also hacked a variety of government-affiliated sites, such as chapter sites of ''InfraGard'', a non-profit organization affiliated with the FBI. The group leaked some of InfraGard member e-mails and a database of local users. On June 13, LulzSec released the e-mails and passwords of a number of users of senate.gov, the website of the U.S. Senate. On June 15, LulzSec launched an attack on cia.gov, the public website of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency, taking the website offline for several hours with a distributed denial-of-service attack. On December 2, an offshoot of LulzSec calling itself LulzSec Portugal attacked several sites related to the government of Portugal. The websites for the Bank of Portugal, the Assembly of the Republic (Portugal), Assembly of the Republic, and the Ministry of Economy, Innovation and Development all became unavailable for a few hours. On June 26, 2011, the core LulzSec group announced it had reached the end of its "50 days of lulz" and was ceasing operations. Sabu, however, had already been secretly arrested on June 7 and then released to work as an FBI informant. His cooperation led to the arrests of Ryan Cleary, James Jeffery, and others.Thomson, Iain.
LulzSec sneak Sabu buys six more months of freedom
" ''The Register''. August 23, 2012.
Tflow was arrested on July 19, 2011, Topiary was arrested on July 27, and Kayla was arrested on March 6, 2012. Topiary, Kayla, Tflow, and Cleary pleaded guilty in April 2013 and were scheduled to be sentenced in May 2013. In April 2013, Australian police arrested the alleged LulzSec leader Aush0k, but subsequent prosecutions failed to establish police claims.


AntiSec

Beginning in June 2011, hackers from Anonymous and LulzSec collaborated on a series of cyber attacks known as "Operation AntiSec". On June 23, in retaliation for the passage of the immigration enforcement bill Arizona SB 1070, LulzSec released a cache of documents from the Arizona Department of Public Safety, including the personal information and home addresses of many law enforcement officers. On June 22, LulzSec Brazil took down the websites of the Government of Brazil and the President of Brazil. Later data dumps included the names, addresses, phone numbers, Internet passwords, and Social Security numbers of police officers in Arizona, Missouri, and Alabama. AntiSec members also stole police officer credit card information to make donations to various causes. On July 18, LulzSec hacked into and vandalized the website of British newspaper ''The Sun (United Kingdom), The Sun'' in response to a News International phone hacking scandal, phone-hacking scandal. Other targets of AntiSec actions have included FBI contractor ManTech International, computer security firm Vanguard Defense Industries, and defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, releasing 90,000 military e-mail accounts and their passwords from the latter. In December 2011, AntiSec member "sup_g" (alleged by the U.S. government to be Jeremy Hammond) and others hacked Stratfor, a U.S.-based intelligence company, vandalizing its web page and publishing 30,000 credit card numbers from its databases. AntiSec later released millions of the group's e-mails to Wikileaks.


Arrests and trials

Since 2009, dozens of people have been arrested for involvement in Anonymous cyberattacks, in countries including the U.S., UK, Australia, the Netherlands, Spain, and Turkey. Anons generally protest these prosecutions and describe these individuals as martyrs to the movement. The July 2011 arrest of LulzSec member Topiary became a particular rallying point, leading to a widespread "Free Topiary" movement. The first person to be sent to jail for participation in an Anonymous DDoS attack was Dmitriy Guzner, an American 19-year-old. He pleaded guilty to "unauthorized impairment of a protected computer" in November 2009 and was sentenced to 366 days in U.S. federal prison. On June 13, 2011, officials in Turkey arrested 32 individuals that were allegedly involved in DDoS attacks on Turkish government websites. These members of Anonymous were captured in different cities of Turkey including Istanbul and Ankara. According to ''PC Magazine'', these individuals were arrested after they attacked websites as a response to the Turkish government demand to ISPs to implement a system of filters that many have perceived as censorship. Chris Doyon (alias "Commander X"), a self-described leader of Anonymous, was arrested in September 2011 for a cyberattack on the website of Santa Cruz County, California, Santa Cruz County, California. He Bail jumping, jumped bail in February 2012 and fled across the border into Canada. In September 2012, journalist and Anonymous associate Barrett Brown, known for speaking to media on behalf of the group, was arrested hours after posting a video that appeared to threaten FBI agents with physical violence. Brown was subsequently charged with 17 offenses, including publishing personal credit card information from the Stratfor hack.


Operation Avenge Assange

Several law enforcement agencies took action after Anonymous' Operation Avenge Assange. In January 2011, the British police arrested five male suspects between the ages of 15 and 26 with suspicion of participating in Anonymous DDoS attacks. During July 19–20, 2011, as many as 20 or more arrests were made of suspected Anonymous hackers in the US, UK, and Netherlands. According to the statements of U.S. officials, suspects' homes were raided and suspects were arrested in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, Washington DC, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, and Ohio. Additionally, a 16-year-old boy was held by the police in south London on suspicion of breaching the Computer Misuse Act 1990, and four were held in the Netherlands. AnonOps admin Christopher Weatherhead (alias "Nerdo"), a 22-year-old who had reportedly been intimately involved in organising DDoS attacks during "Operation Payback", was convicted by a UK court on one count of conspiracy to impair the operation of computers in December 2012. He was sentenced to 18 months' imprisonment. Ashley Rhodes, Peter Gibson, and another male had already pleaded guilty to the same charge for actions between August 2010 and January 2011.


Analysis

Evaluations of Anonymous' actions and effectiveness vary widely. In a widely shared post, blogger Patrick Gray wrote that private security firms "secretly love" the group for the way in which it publicises cyber security threats. Anonymous is sometimes stated to have changed the nature of protesting, and in 2012, ''
Time Time is the continued sequence of existence and event (philosophy), events that occurs in an apparently irreversible process, irreversible succession from the past, through the present, into the future. It is a component quantity of various me ...
'' called it one of the " 100 most influential people" in the world. In 2012, Public Radio International reported that the U.S. National Security Agency considered Anonymous a potential national security threat and had warned the president that it could develop the capability to disable parts of the U.S. power grid. In contrast, CNN reported in the same year that "security industry experts generally don't consider Anonymous a major player in the world of cybercrime" due to the group's reliance on DDoS attacks that briefly disabled websites rather than the more serious damage possible through hacking. One security consultant compared the group to "a jewelry thief that drives through a window, steal jewels, and rather than keep them, waves them around and tosses them out to a crowd ... They're very noisy, low-grade crimes." In its ''2013 Threats Predictions'' report, McAfee wrote that the technical sophistication of Anonymous was in decline and that it was losing supporters due to "too many uncoordinated and unclear operations". Graham Cluley, a security expert for Sophos, argued that Anonymous' actions against child porn websites hosted on a darknet could be counterproductive, commenting that while their intentions may be good, the removal of illegal websites and sharing networks should be performed by the authorities, rather than Internet vigilantes. Some commentators also argued that the DDoS attacks by Anonymous following the January 2012 Stop Online Piracy Act protests had proved counterproductive. Molly Wood of CNET wrote that "[i]f the SOPA/PIPA protests were the Web's moment of inspiring, non-violent, hand-holding civil disobedience, #OpMegaUpload feels like the unsettling wave of car-burning hooligans that sweep in and incite the riot portion of the play." Dwight Silverman of the ''Houston Chronicle'' concurred, stating that "Anonymous' actions hurt the movement to kill SOPA/PIPA by highlighting online lawlessness." The Oxford Internet Institute's Joss Wright wrote that "In one sense the actions of Anonymous are themselves, anonymously and unaccountably, censoring websites in response to positions with which they disagree."
Gabriella Coleman Enid Gabriella Coleman (usually known as Gabriella Coleman or Biella; born 1973) is an anthropologistAn anthropologist is a person engaged in the practice of anthropology. Anthropology is the study of aspects of humans within past and present Soc ...
has compared the group to the trickster archetype and said that "they dramatize the importance of anonymity and privacy in an era when both are rapidly eroding. Given that vast databases track us, given the vast explosion of surveillance, there's something enchanting, mesmerizing and at a minimum thought-provoking about Anonymous' interventions". When asked what good Anonymous had done for the world,
Parmy Olson Parmy Olson is a tech journalist for ''The Wall Street Journal.'' While at "Forbes" magazine, she was known for her work on the hacktivist movement Anonymous (group), Anonymous. She describes herself as covering "agitators and innovators in mobil ...
replied:
In some cases, yes, I think it has in terms of some of the stuff they did in the Middle East supporting the pro-democracy demonstrators. But a lot of bad things too, unnecessarily harassing people – I would class that as a bad thing. DDOSing the CIA website, stealing customer data and posting it online just for shits and giggles is not a good thing.
Quinn Norton of ''Wired'' wrote of the group in 2011:
I will confess up front that I love Anonymous, but not because I think they're the heroes. Like Alan Moore's character V who inspired Anonymous to adopt the Guy Fawkes mask as an icon and fashion item, you're never quite sure if Anonymous is the hero or antihero. The trickster is attracted to change and the need for change, and that's where Anonymous goes. But they are not your personal army – that's Rule 44 – yes, there are rules. And when they do something, it never goes quite as planned. The internet has no neat endings.
Furthermore, Landers assessed the following in 2008:
Anonymous is the first internet-based super-consciousness. Anonymous is a group, in the sense that a flock of birds is a group. How do you know they’re a group? Because they’re travelling in the same direction. At any given moment, more birds could join, leave, peel off in another direction entirely.


Media portrayal

Sam Esmail shared in an interview with ''Motherboard'' that he was inspired by Anonymous when creating the USA Network hacktivist drama, ''Mr. Robot''."The Creator of 'Mr. Robot' Explains Its Hacktivist and Cult Roots". Motherboard. Retrieved October 28, 2016. Furthermore, ''Wired'' calls the "Omegas", a fictitious hacker group in the show, "a clear reference to the Anonymous offshoot known as
LulzSec Lulz Security, commonly abbreviated as LulzSec, was a black hat computer hacking group that claimed responsibility for several high profile attacks, including the compromise of user accounts from PlayStation Network in 2011. The group also cla ...
". A member of Anonymous called ''Mr. Robot'' "the most accurate portrayal of security and hacking culture ever to grace the screen". In the TV series ''Elementary (TV series), Elementary'' a hacktivist collective called "Everyone" plays a recurring role; there are several hints and similarities to Anonymous.


See also

Memetic persona * Luther Blissett (nom de plume) * Crowd psychology * John Doe * Proteus effect Composition * Emergent organization * Fourth-generation warfare * Self-organization * Spontaneous order * Adhocracy Activism * Electronic civil disobedience * Leaderless resistance * Streisand effect Other related articles * Anti-mask laws * CyberBerkut * Derp (hacker group) * LulzRaft * Panopticon * Securax * RedHack * ''We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists''


References


Notes


Citations


Bibliography

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External links

{{DEFAULTSORT:Anonymous (Group) Anonymous (group), Anonymity Cyberattacks Hacker groups Information society Intellectual property activism Internet-based activism Internet culture Internet memes Internet trolling Internet vigilantism Organizations established in 2003 Articles containing video clips Hacking in the 2000s Hacking in the 2010s Hacking in the 2020s Cyberattack gangs Anonymity pseudonyms 4chan Anti-cult organizations Hacktivists