In June 2011, The hacker group known as lulzsec (an offshoot of Anonymous) announced they were attacking governments, banks and large corporation and will leak all classified information, inviting anyone else to join them. Before and continuing after the announcements, several successfull attacks had been conducted against corporations including but not limited to, Fox.com and Sony’s Playstation Network. In a world where everything is increasingly online, especially our private details, Vigilante hackers hold an interesting position between heroic leaders in the push for freedom and self-righteous strangers risking innocent people to attack anyone who disagrees with their morals.
Doing Something Simply Because You Can
During an attack by lulzsec, Sony’s PlayStation network and SonyPictures.com was hacked wherein the personal data of all of its users were compromised including email addresses, dates of birth, bank details and any other opt in data given by users at signup. Hackers claimed the attacks were for laughs and to show how insecure our information is when given to large corporations. Is it not counter-intuitive to show how easily compromised our information is by compromising it yourself?
The Good, The Bad And The Alternative Measures
In her TED talk, Catherine Bracy describes how ‘good’ hacking can really be for the better. She describes civic hacking which involves hacking in collaboration with governments and businesses and how through civic hacking we can engage citizens to work with the government and how governmnents can crowd-source projects to work better and more citizen friendly. The key difference between groups such as Lulzsec and civic hacking is as Bracy identifies civic hackers as, “Citizens who saw things that could be working better and they decided to fix them. Instead of lurking in shadows and acting on principles of harm, vigilante hackers such as Lulzsec need to come to realise that governments, banks and large corporations are run by and comprised of other human beings that can be worked with instead of against where people can get hurt and in some cases livelihoods destroyed