Over the past year, “hacktivist” collective Anonymous engaged in controversial campaigns against major corporations and government agencies.
However, its most recent cyber attack is one most people will find difficult to disagree with.
Over the past week, Anonymous took credit for bringing down over 40 sites allegedly holding pornographic content containing children. Additionally, the group claimed to expose the names and information of 1,589 alleged pedophiles that have been regularly using these sites, according to The Huffington Post.
The campaign, titled “OpDarknet,” began on Oct. 14. Darknet refers to websites that “are part of the Invisible Web, sometimes called the Deep Web. These sites contain content that is not part of the Surface Web, which is indexed by standard search engines,” according to The Guardian.
Anonymous users were browsing a Darknet site called “Hidden Wiki,” which indexes hundreds of underground websites that cannot be reached by conventional means. Most contain illegal or illicit content, ranging from film and music file-sharing to drug and weapons trade.
After releases of multiple YouTube videos containing their declaration to “hunt, skin and kill pedobears everywhere,” Anonymous specifically targeted hosting server “Freedom Hosting.”
This is where most of Hidden Wiki’s child pornography sites could be traced back to.
After Anonymous issued a demand to remove any all and child pornographic content form its server following an initial service attack, Freedom Hosting did not comply. Anonymous promptly responded by bringing down the website again on Oct. 15
After making their first kill, Anonymous moved onto pedophilic file-swapping site “Lolita City,” publishing names and information of 1,589 users on Pastebin, including locations and pictures.
Found within the document containing the released names was the following: “If the FBI, Interpol, or other law enforcement agency should happen to come across this list, please use it to investigate and bring justice to the people listed here.”
Afterwards, “lolita_f—–” contacted Anonymous via their IRC channel, who identified “Lolita City” as “my server.” The user threatened to send “thugs” to cause trouble at a number of Occupy Wall Street events.
Interestingly, they said that a number of prominent public figures as are a part of the pedophilic collective. “Some of the users of Lolita City are high level politicians, cardinals and business men,” lolita_f—– said.
Anonymous is making interesting strides as a vigilante organization. Instead of attacking institutions that would typically garner large amounts of public scorn, such as the New York Stock Exchange, Sony Computer Entertainment or even the CIA, it’s engaging in a cause that most of us can endorse: reducing child sexual abuse.
What seems to be most interesting here is the technical familiarity level that these battles are being waged. Anonymous has not attacked public websites or well-known organizations. Rather they are bringing down underground, secret groups as an, well, underground and secret group.
Member “Arson” told Gawker Media that the group sought media attention to hopefully “get the resources needed to shut them down on a more permanent basis.”
Could this mean that Anonymous will be working together with the same organizations it had previously combated against less than a year ago? If so, perhaps the public’s view of Anonymous may change from Internet rogues to Internet vigilantes.
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