HACTIVISM – BE ALERT BUT NOT ALARMED
Last year we decided to bite the bullet, max out the credit cards and take our kids to the US. We had such a fantastic time: Disneyworld and Harry Potter world in Orlando, the Smithsonian in Washington, Hollywood and the walking zombies in New York.
Yes, walking zombies. We were in New York when the Occupy Wall Street protests were in full throttle.
As we walked from the Staten Island ferry to the Empire State Building, the pulsating group of Occupy Protestors were always there. It was chaos but my kids were completely intrigued! “Why are they dressed up? Who are these zombies?”
I knew about the Occupy movement but as I was simultaneously navigating my way through the mob and Googling, I discovered a whole lot more.
The Occupy movement was assisted by a hacktivist group called Anonymous who took down the New York Stock Exchange’s website in support of Occupy Wall Street.
The concept of hacktivism was one I wasn’t overly familiar with. Hacktivism is a form of social or political activism that occurs online. Driven by a political or social agenda and a desire to make a statement, hactivists can create online chaos by taking over websites, gaining access to confidential information or closing down sites by instigating a barrage of requests that overwhelm the site’s servers, aka denial of service attacks [DoS].
Each year, McAfee Labs™ looks at cyber trends to make predictions about what kind of security threats they expect to see in the next year. Hacktivism is high on the list.
Now, I know you are wondering if consumers should be concerned. Hacktivists are more interested in pursuing their political or social agenda than focusing on mums and dads, though we may get caught up in the fallout of one of these attacks though the pilfering of personal details or inconvenience. In 2010, Anonymous attacked Australian Government websites in “Operation Titstorm” because of its stance on internet censorship, freezing Government websites sites and causing massive inconvenience to many Australians.
Be alert but not alarmed. Hacktivists can gain access to unsuspecting people’s computers to send spam email or execute attacks. It’s not just about having an up-to-date security suite. Only reply to emails from people you know, use strong passwords and only download from sites you trust. Never click on a link in a spam email – it might download an access point (or bot) onto your machine without you knowing!
Till next time,