McAfee report predicts Anonymous to decline this year

Last month, famed hacktivist collective Anonymous launched a tirade on the nationally detested extremist Westboro Baptist Church.

Upon the church’s announcement that they would head to Newton, Conn. to protest the funerals of Sandy Hook shooting victims, Anonymous used a data drop to publish sensitive information like social security numbers, addresses and phone numbers of Westboro’s important leaders.

After gaining national attention and support from almost every group of society—even the KKK sided with Anonymous on this one—the hacker collective stepped into the spotlight at a nearly unprecedented level.

Following the attack and resulting notoriety, security firm McAfee raised an interesting point in regard to the state of Anonymous in 2013. A team of McAfee researchers said in a report that too many “un-coordinated and unclear operations” made by Anonymous are in a sense leading to the demise of its reputation.

McAfee Labs reported: “Disinformation, false claims, and pure hacking actions will lead to the movement being less politically visible than in the past. Because Anonymous’ level of technical sophistication has stagnated and its tactics are better understood by its potential victims, the group’s level of success will decline. However, we could easily imagine some short-lived spectacular actions due to convergence between hacktivists and anti-globalization supporters, or hacktivists and ecoterrorists.”

The researchers believe that the juxtaposition of hacking to cure boredom and hacking to engage in politics is what will ultimately lead to the group’s downfall.

“In the beginning, Anonymous was just about self-amusement, the ‘lulz,’” journalist Quinn Norton explained in a Wired article, “But somehow, over the course of the past few years, it grew up to become a sort of self-appointed immune system for the internet, striking back at anyone the hive mind perceived as an enemy of freedom, online or offline.”

However, as the group has shifted toward a political agenda, there is another threat against the livelihood of Anonymous. The digital world is ever changing, and more laws and government actions are being put into effect to illegalize many of the ways that Anonymous operates.

As of Jan. 7, Anonymous has attempted to refute the governmental action by creating a petition on the White House’s website “We the People” to “make, distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), a legal form of protesting.”

In the petition, the hacktivists explain: “Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS), is not any form of hacking in any way. It is the equivalent of repeatedly hitting the refresh button on a webpage. It is, in that way, no different than any “occupy” protest. Instead of a group of people standing outside a building to occupy the area, they are having their computer occupy a website to slow (or deny) service of that particular website for a short time.”

While the actions and influence of Anonymous in 2013 are unclear, there are several other threats that individuals and businesses face daily when it comes to cyber security. Ensuring that you have the right security team to protect your firm is paramount. If you are looking to fill a senior-level security position, contact Tiro Security and ask to find out more about our Executive Search options.