We Are Anonymous by Parmy Olson
Hector Xavier Monsegur was 18 years old teenager when he was arrested after his group Lulzsec hackers fell prey to the dreaded Federal Bureau of Investigation infiltration although the Investigators were hugely assisted by one of LulzSec’s own hackers. Parmy Olson who is a reporter with Forbes has authoritatively describes how Anonymous became a global brand after it graduated from hoaxing paedophiles, hotel managers and leading online protest against the Church of Scientology to engineering attacks on behalf of WikiLeaks to those who terminated online payments to the site that stirred global controversy after releasing US diplomatic cables. This is just of the cases Olson’s investigation unearthed about secretive group of hackers using interviews with key figures. I vividly recall how before Christmas 2010 the International media carried stories of how Anonymous hacking group has attacked PayPal, an online bill-paying business in retaliation of PayPal cutting off donations to the WikiLeaks Web site. PayPal was the highway for donations that supported WikiLeaks a whistle-blower site founded by Australian Julian Assange who is still holed up the Ecuadorian embassy in London. PayPal just like other online pay systems are said to have succumbed to United States government pressure to cut off donations to WikiLeaks after the site released massive State Department’s internal messages that recently led to 35 years jail sentence to key leaker, an Army officer Bradley Manning.
Around July 2011, the website of United Kingdom’s most popular newspaper The Sun readers were hoaxed that its main shareholder, Rupert Murdoch, had been found dead in his garden after an overdose by LulzSec, a ‘hacktivist’ offshoot of Anonymous. However, am very surprised how the author claims that Denial Distribution of Services is a sophisticated attack and yet it is not. For your information that is childish play and can happen everywhere, very easily by any competent computer programmer.These groups were not sophisticated in my opinion and their attacks as well like the mainstream media wanted the whole world to report. This book is the most authoritative account of how an assembled group of disgruntled hackers scattered across different continents formed a never seen kind of insurgency, captured global headlines, and how they spectacularly fell in a well documented betrayal that would eventually brought them down to their knees. The author Parmy Olson goes behind the headlines provided to the global audience and into the world of Anonymous and LulzSec with unlimited access, attracting hundreds of conversations with the hackers that included all six members of LulzSec.
However, according to the book Anonymous had more accomplishments and it’s clear some of which are not mentioned in the book and only those keen watchers of their activities can tell after reading the book. The author claims that Anonymous and LulSec were hackers with unmatched skills that baffled even the smartest in different security agencies across the world. I hold different view but not to underestimate the hackers but various researches as recent as few months ago showed that some of them couldn’t code a simple program that led me into believing not all hackers were in class of their own. Although the identities of Lulzsec and Anonymous hackers baffled the security agencies, the hacking groups without doubt placed various security organizations as inept and how the 1980s-1990s aging computer masters working for those agencies ideas are out of touch with reality of 21st century kids with extraordinary computer skills.
The book deeply focuses into the Internet’s underbelly to tell the incredible full story of the global cyber insurgency and I truly appreciate the author for highlighting the implications for the future of computer security some of which we are being felt today. These groups acted as “Internet superpowers” that was faceless, nameless and was not unaccountable to anyone. The author also outlines tools with which Anonymous undermines powerful organizations by coordinating a surplus of visitors to overwhelm their servers and exploitation of unsafe coding to steal private information and dump it into the public domain and in some other cases joyfully messing with popular sites. The book also reveals that effective hacking depend on code proficiency and tricking victims through private data over email and social media. It is a fascinating how Olson had such great access to these hackers and chronicle the power of new technology and I must admit that her research is justifiably impressive. This book should serve as a lesson to those obsessed with being crackers as well professional programmers call them that such activities have no reward. Well, I strongly believe the battle of supremacy in what I call “Internet mafias” and state organs will only accelerate.