Five reasons hacktivists can’t be stopped

But of course, there is a paradox at the heart of the hacktivists. They claim to be carrying out their attacks for the people,' but they will happily cripple companies who have perfectly moralistic employees working for them.

"Many of the attacks attributed to these organisations have caused trouble to ordinary people. As much as people may disagree with the digital rights attitudes of many companies, they may still be using their services and be hit by a DDoS against them," said Mika Jalava, CTO at Stonesoft.

The change in tack to a more peaceful form of protest, as seen with this week's campaign calling on people to ditch PayPal accounts, might be a reaction to this. But it won't stop the illegal attacks.

The fact is, hacktivists need the power of DDoS to remain a threat and they will hold onto it. This will help them stay alive for some time to come.

4. People power?

Hacktivists can also claim to have the backing of many non-hackers, something money-seeking cyber criminals don't have. This makes Anonymous and Co different, it gives them a romantic edge.

As this article is itself ironically highlighting, media organisations love to report on hacktivists. They are something different, something exciting almost. Not run of the mill crooks.

In turn, this supplies them with a more prominent platform to espouse their views and therefore influence.

They're not so bad at doing their own PR either, as recently shown in the targeting of The Sun during the phone hacking scandal.

"Possibly they're being a little bolder than they have been recently, targeting the Murdoch empire because their target has attracted more anger than they have, though I think it's far from a foregone conclusion that they have as much data as they've claimed," said David Harley, senior research fellow at ESET.

"That could have been a ploy to appear more responsible' and deflect heat. Or simply to get more PR."

5. Anyone can be a target

The sheer range of organisations targeted by Anonymous and LulzSec has indicated they have no qualms about hitting anyone they feel like. Government bodies, financial institutions, news corporations - any company could be a target.

Anonymous' crosshairs could find their way onto any business, public or private.

So the final message is simply get yourself protected. Make sure your company can take the hit of a DDoS, or a more sophisticated strike, and educate workers on the dangers of targeted attacks. Not courting the attention of these hacking collectives would also be wise...

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.