The rise of the chaotic actor

The past year saw the emergence of a series of cleverly named hacking groups like Anonymous, LulzSec, and TeaMp0isoN. In 2011, these groups brought the fight to corporate America, crippling firms both small (HBGary Federal) and large (Sony). As the year drew to a close these groups noticeably shifted from prank-oriented hacks for laughs (or “lulz”), aligning themselves with political movements like Occupy Wall Street and using their skills to lend material and virtual support to the protests in various cities.

The past year saw the emergence of a series of cleverly named hacking groups like Anonymous, LulzSec, and TeaMp0isoN. In 2011, these groups brought the fight to corporate America, crippling firms both small (HBGary Federal) and large (Sony). As the year drew to a close these groups noticeably shifted from prank-oriented hacks for laughs (or “lulz”), aligning themselves with political movements like Occupy Wall Street and using their skills to lend material and virtual support to the protests in various cities. It was an Anonymous-linked group, after all, that discovered and leaked the identity of pepper-spraying police officers in both the New York and Davis, California protests. Supporting populist figures like the student protestors at UC Davis is just good PR, but it also plays into the larger Anonymous narrative about using asymmetric force against abuse of individual liberties by corporations and governments. Joshua Corman, of the firm Akamai, has suggested that 2012 will bring further segmentation of what used to be known as “Anonymous,” as some elements pursue political and socially constructive ends like income inequality, child exploitation or weeding out corruption, while more extreme elements within Anonymous carry out ever more bold – and alienating – attacks against targets of their choosing.

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