By now, everyone is aware of Anonymous, a worldwide collective of hacktivists formed in 2003. Anonymous members are scattered all over the world and mostly act when they want to get a political message across. Their symbol, the Guy Fawkes mask, was inspired by the movie V for Vendetta which has anarchic themes that align with much of what Anonymous stands for.
Throughout the years, Anonymous has made huge hacks that have shocked the world and made them media sensations. After quite a long hiatus, recent events have proved that members are, in fact, still active and can still shake things up. Here are some of their most-talked-about hacks to date:
Minneapolis PD website hacked
BITCH YALL GOT ANONYMOUS OUT THE SHADOWS pic.twitter.com/bCBPnNJkmr
— Thug (@LAVENDERTHUG) May 31, 2020
George Floyd’s death was the last straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back. It opened the floodgates Western racists have tried so hard to fortify over the years and now the whole world is in on the protest. On Saturday, May 30, Anonymous cast their lot with the protesters and posted a video that promised retribution for Floyd’s death. Hours later, the Minneapolis Police Department’s website could not be accessed.
The video concluded with an eerie statement: “We do not trust your corrupt organization to carry out justice, so we will be exposing your many crimes to the world. We are a legion. Expect us.”
BRUH ANONYMOUS TOOK DOWN THE MINNEAPOLIS WEBSITE!!!!! ITS ABOUT TO GO DOWN!!! FUCK THE POLICE pic.twitter.com/tKaedtJSFB
— v 🌱 (@vvill3do) May 31, 2020
The allegations against Donald Trump
ANONYMOUS RELEASED PROOF THAT OUR CURRENT PRESIDENT WAS INVOLVED IN A CHILD RAPE AND SEX TRAFFICKING LAWSUIT
— kennybeats (@kennybeats) May 31, 2020
During all the protests and chaos, Anonymous fired another digital bullet: unearthing documents on current US President Donald Trump’s alleged raping of minors. The documents included graphic statements by the victims and points to the fact that Trump and deceased sex offender Jeffrey Epstein were buddies. The accusations of child trafficking and pedophilia run deep and this “receipt” is barely scratching the surface. Trump has yet to issue a statement about it.
ANONYMOUS EXPOSED DONALD TRUMP AND TWITTER IS DELETING IT. REPOST THIS. pic.twitter.com/EBT05K8AKH
— ⁷ (@SUGASDCK) June 1, 2020
trump Twitter is supposedly deleting tweets involving his rape case in 2016 with Epstein who randomly “killed himself” 2 years later considering Epstein was the only human who had dirt on him shits not a coincidence unfollow me clowns . #OpDeathEaters pic.twitter.com/WAnAljfB1G
— \/ERSACERAⱣT🦠℞ (@xchrischin) May 31, 2020
Operation Free Assange and the cyberattack against PayPal
Julian Assange is an Australian journalist, arrested for publishing the truth about war crimes committed by the United States army in Iraq. He is not guilty of any crime.
— Anonymous 🍀⌛ We are all #GeorgeFloyd (@YourMarkLubbers) October 19, 2019
Anonymous issued a warning when WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested in 2012 for conspiring to download the US government’s classified database. WikiLeaks is an organization that publishes news leaks and classified media provided by anonymous sources. Anonymous sent a video message saying “Let Assange free or you will pay!” followed by their motto, “We are Anonymous! We are Legion! We do not forgive! We do not forget! Expect us!”
As part of their retaliation, they initiated “Operation Payback,” a 2012 cyber attack on huge companies including PayPal, MasterCard, and Visa. They managed to shut down PayPal for an hour, but the damage cost the company millions.
One of their earliest hacks coincided with a protest movement in 2008 against the practices of the Church of Scientology. It stemmed from a video where Tom Cruise made less than preposterous claims about Scientologists and how they are the “authorities on the mind.” The Church had the video taken down on YouTube, but members of Anonymous were angered over the misinformation and apparent use of internet censorship.
Anonymous launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that caused a barrage of faxes, emails, and phone calls to rain on the Church disrupting its operations. The hacktivist group also used “Google bombing” where they manipulated the search engines to show the Church’s website when you search for “dangerous cult.”
Hacking Lolita City
Anonymous Hacks Lolita City Alleged Porn Ring – http://t.co/KdZCrGVq
— Anonymous (@YourAnonNews) October 22, 2011
Anonymous is its own brand of digital justice. In 2011, it infiltrated the dark web and hacked the website Lolita City. “We are eliminating 40+ child pornography websites, among these is Lolita City, one of the largest child pornography websites to date containing more than 100GB of child pornography,” said Anonymous via a statement. After this, they obtained the login details of more than a thousand users and published them online, which goes to show that members of Anonymous refuse to turn a blind eye to any sort of abuse online.
HBGary Federal attack
In 2011, HBGary Federal CEO Aaron Barr bragged that he has successfully uncovered the identities of the leaders of Anonymous and that he will reveal them soon. This was to punish the group for hacking MasterCard, Visa, and others opposing WikiLeaks. Anonymous got word and immediately proceeded to hack HBGary’s website and networks, leaking more than 70,000 emails that they had indexed and made searchable. The online war went even as far as Anonymous demanding HBGary to fire Barr (which they did not do). In any case, they got the message across and the public was divided between hailing the illegal hacker vigilantes and relishing their expose drama.
War with ISIS
In 2015 suicide bombers and gunmen attacked Paris and left 132 dead, these attacks were believed to be organized by ISIS. Anonymous posted a YouTube clip addressing the group directly saying that they will hunt them down. According to the news, Anonymous successfully took down almost 150 Islamic State-linked websites, 100,000 Twitter accounts, and 5,900 propaganda videos.
These actions, however, divided the public. There are those who are rooting for Anonymous’s chaotic justice via illegal methods but there are also those who believe that taking down websites is akin to destroying evidence which the federal police might have been using to trace perpetrators. Is Anonymous doing things for the better or are they making it worse?
The war with ISIS even continued in 2016 when Anonymous hacked pro-ISIS Twitter accounts and posted gay pride tweets. This was retaliation for the Orlando massacre shooting which was believed to have been a terrorist attack by ISIS.
— Anonymous 🏴 (@GroupAnon) November 15, 2015
Operation Tunisia and Operation Egypt
Anonymous told Al Jazeera in 2011 that the shadowy group was fighting for the free-flow of information. “You can’t make a decision on something if you don’t know anything about it,” they said. This is why they launched Operation Tunisia and Operation Egypt which targeted government websites with the Anonymous trademark move, direct denial of service (DDoS). The group sought to lift internet censorship and make foreign media pay attention to what’s happening by helping Tunisians share videos to the outside world.
These are just a few of Anonymous’ biggest hacks throughout the years. The group is still very active to this day. In fact, just last week they hacked the Twitter account of PLDT, the Philippines’ largest internet provider, demanding faster internet connection. And in the days and months to come, we can’t help but wonder what havoc, good or bad, this shadowy group will give the world.
What’s your favorite Anonymous operation?