Leaking private information, destroying critical data and infrastructure crosses the line from peaceful protest to destruction of property when there are more peaceful ways to protest that can be just as effective. As our digital presence increases throughout the world there is a growing risk for abuse of modern technology. As people and companies begin to rely more on technology, there needs to be a form of internet insurance to protect our digital life online. People have always had a desire for change and will create protests with the utilization of different forms of activism to influence and take control over their own lives. A new form of activism has begun to take shape in the last decade called Hacktivism, it's a way of digital protest using technology to gain control over another with the utilization of the internet. Social and political movements are a quizzical part of the 21st century and technology is making it even easier for people to have a bigger voice and more influence than ever before. Even though Hactivist protests may seem nonviolent compared to real-world protests, Hactivists can destroy critical intellectual property and infrastructure.
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The term Hacktivism is defined as computer hacking to protest a political or a social cause. While Hacktivism in the past has been used to advance important social and political causes, In recent years many large mistakes have been made by Hacktivist groups like Anonymous and GhostSec. These Hacktivist organizations have built a reputation for the false accusation of high-profile crime suspects. While there are many forms of cyber attacks used by Hactivists, let's look at a more obscure and potentially more dangerous one… Hacking with AI.
The typical way Hacktivists will identify some of these crime suspects would be through utilization of forums like Reddit, 4-chan, and Discord, as well as other social media on the internet, where Hacktivist extremists encourage and bind groups of people together to hack and fight for their overall cause. Many researchers say that groups like Anonymous and GhostSec have stepped too far out from their legal bounds. Hacktivists have taken more extreme measures more often today than ever before, For example, overeager Hacktivists have hacked into city and government records via DNS server exploits to gather information on suspects. Hacktivists have proven that they can pull information like, addresses, phone numbers, banking information, as well as license plate numbers and registration info and more. Hacktivists at Anonymous (and other Hacktivist groups) used this kind of data obtained through DNS server exploits and other less common methods (Likely SQL injection and Password Sniffing ISP’s) to rule out suspects.
Suppose that a Hacktivist obtained driver's license and registration info for one of those suspects, Hactivists could break into licence plate scanners at traffic stops owned by the state sheriffs department to identify where their suspect was traveling that day. In fact that is exactly what happened during a smear campaign led by Anonymous to try to identify a perpetrator for the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting. Hackers working with Anonymous found that by utilizing their large group of followers, they could make a “Botnet”, which is a program that uses the power of many interconnected hacked servers and computers to carry out attacks with more computing power.
Botnets are typically used by Anonymous to take down websites, but in this case, they were able to utilize the technology to run distributed AI or an Artificial Neural Networking Program with the hundreds of Botnet users that was trained to detect and identify the suspects face based on many photos they found of him on the web through social media and state documents. This Neural Network that was running on Anonymous’s Botnet was basically a radical form of high powered facial recognition. Of course, Hackers from Anonymous were able to use their Botnet to target local CCTV cameras surrounding the school in order to try and identify the suspect. The Hackers ran the security feeds from the school cameras and the surrounding areas against the Neural Network on the Botnet and retrieved some fulfilling matches. Anonymous didn’t take a long time to make conclusions when they caught their suspect walking around the school. Eventually they and These false accusations sprung from Anonymous’s newly initiated “smear campaigns” which intended to effectively evade the assumption that “one is innocent until proven guilty,” Which is the main backbone of the American Justice system (DiLacio, Tracey).
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Even though Hacktivists identified more perpetrators correctly when Anonymous used “smear campaigns.” during the campaigns, Hacktivists had made many false accusations against innocent people. This included false accusations for two major events of terrorism, shows that the identification of an alleged perpetrator by hackers is definetly not completely foolproof. Hacktivist groups falsely identified a man as the perpetrator in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and then proceeded to, once again falsely accuse a suspect online for the Boston Marathon bombings the next year. These false allegations were eventually taken down, but not before the falsely accused criminals received large counts of harassment and threats online.
- Castaldy, Daniel. "WikiLeaks Is a Criminal Organization and Should Be Shut Down." Edited by John F. Burns. Points of View Reference Center, 30 June 2019, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pwh&AN=84783796&site=pov-live. Accessed 7 Feb. 2020. Castaldy, Daniel. "Counterpoint: WikiLeaks Is a Criminal Organization and Should Be Shut Down." Points of View: Wikileaks, June 2019, p. 1. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pwh&AN=84783796&site=pov-live.
- DiLascio, Tracey. "Hacktivists Engage in Criminal Behavior That Is Dangerous and Should Be Punished." Edited by Hilary Whiteman. Points of View Reference Center, 2017, web.b.ebscohost.com/pov/detail/detail?vid=2&sid=5aa0ae06-b40c-4a85-84a7-108e1010d50a%40pdc-v-sessmgr01&bdata=JnNpdGU9cG92LWxpdmU%3d#AN=96222804&db=pwh. DiLascio, Tracey M. "Counterpoint: Hacktivists Engage in Criminal Behavior That Is Dangerous and Should Be Punished." Points of View: Hacktivism, Mar. 2017, p. 1. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pwh&AN=96222804&site=pov-live.
- DiLascio, Tracey M. "WikiLeaks: Overview." Points of View Reference Center, 30 June 2019, web.a.ebscohost.com/pov/detail/detail?vid=3&sid=bcfd9b62-8f2e-4dd6-b888-2b7be4c249a3%40sdc-v-sessmgr03&bdata=JnNpdGU9cG92LWxpdmU%3d#AN=84783793&db=pwh. Accessed 7 Feb. 2020. DiLascio, Tracey M. "WikiLeaks: Overview." Points of View: Wikileaks, June 2019, p. 1. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pwh&AN=84783793&site=pov-live.
- Jordan, Tim, and Paul Taylor. Hacktivism and cyberwars: Rebels with a cause?. Routledge, 2004.
- Thompson, Christie. "Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience or Cyber Crime?" Other Sources, pp. 1-2. SIRS Issues Researcher, explore.proquest.com/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2265650755?searchid=1580308509&accountid=36324. Accessed 29 Jan. 2020. Thompson, Christie. Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience Or Cyber Crime? , 2013. sirsissuesresearcher, https://explore.proquest.com/sirsissuesresearcher/document/2265650755?accountid=36324.
- Yasmine, Ryan. "Hacktivism Provides an Indispensable Tool for Advancing Important Causes Worldwide." Points of View Reference Center, 2017, web.a.ebscohost.com/pov/command/detail?vid=5&sid=5e4b22cb-1deb-4397-bcdd-4c13d7019d36%40sdc-v-sessmgr03&bdata=JnNpdGU9cG92LWxpdmU%3d#jid=H7WA&db=pwh. Accessed 5 Feb. 2020. "Point: Hacktivism Provides an Indispensable Tool for Advancing Important Causes Worldwide." Points of View: Hacktivism, Mar. 2017, p.1. EBSCOhost, search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=pwh&AN=96222803&site=pov-live
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