Five reasons hacktivists can’t be stopped


ANALYSIS One of the supposed key figures of LulzSec may have been captured by police during raids on the Shetland Isles, but it won't affect hacktivists too much.

Despite what authorities might believe, taking down any hacktivist group completely is close to impossible.

Look at the number of arrests made this year in relation to either Anonymous or LulzSec crackdowns. It's over 50. Yet have they made any impact?

Looking at recent events, the answer appears to be categorically no.' In the last month alone, NATO, News International, PayPal and Pfizer have all felt the wrath of hacktivists in differing ways.

Here's five reasons why the likes of Anonymous, LulzSec and new kids on the block The Script Kiddies, won't be stopped anytime soon.

1. Arrests won't do anything

Hackers are notoriously hard to catch. For that reason alone, hacktivists will not easily be defeated.

"By definition, hacking is a covert activity. So trying to quantify the activities of this or that group is difficult," David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, told IT Pro.

"How effective these arrests may be is dependent on several factors - how big the group is, whether it's just one group and, if it is, how cohesive it is, the outcome of the arrests."

With hacktivists, arrests look likely to do little. Anonymous is undoubtedly a complex, large organisation, spread across many nations, making it hugely difficult track and ensuring investigations between countries are tricky to organise.

Furthermore, the fact Anonymous is so disparate, with no real head to be cut off, means it can't be crushed with arrests of supposedly high-profile members. Although there are members who carry greater weight than others, there is no definitive leader.

What's more, anyone can pick up the reins once one of the more senior members is taken in for questioning.

The structure of Anonymous may look chaotic, but this anarchy, this lack of a formal hierarchy gives it power.

2. Strong morals

It is clear Anonymous et al are in this mainly for political means. They want to bring down public and private organisations they view as corrupt.

If you have a purpose, of course, you have a strength. The hacktivists can take heart in this truism. Despite their disparate nature noted before, their shared values and targets give them direction. This translates into highly focused attacks.

This was crystallised in Anonymous' support of WikiLeaks. Since dropping support for financial aid to Julian Assange's organisation, financial firms like MasterCard and PayPal have been on the wrong end of attacks by hacking collective.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.