Hacktivism and web monitoring in 2013 for Security Affairs

Pierluigi Paganini December 30, 2012

The year is ending and it’s very easy to read forecast for next year, experts are sure that we will assist to a sensible increase of state-sponsored attacks and to the raise of sophisticated malware, both cyber threats will exploit large scale channels such as mobile and social networks.

The majority of forecast are focused on the above considerations but in my opinion we cannot avoid a couple of factors that will continue to influence in meaningful way the user’s experience in the cyberspace, the hacktivism and the government control.

The last couple of years are full of events that demonstrated the great power of hacktivism, groups of hackers that are able to raise the attention on political choices and that in many case have created serious problems to governments and intelligence agencies all over the world. Ignore the hacktivism phenomenon, underestimate the Anonymous collective is presumptuous and unconscious, this guys, despite operating in a questionable way for some, are now the only reality in cyberspace that addresses uncomfortable issues that in many cases even the press avoids talking.

During 2012 operations such as #OpOWS, #OpPedoChat and #opJapan demonstrated the influence of the group on cyber security , but there are security firms such as McAfee that are not convicted that 2013 will observe the decline of Anonymous.

On a blog post on its annual Threat Predictions report the company states:

Hacktivism – The decline of Anonymous

Due to many uncoordinated and unclear operations and false claims, the Anonymous hacktivist movement will slow down in 2013. Anonymous’ level of technical sophistication has stagnated and its tactics are better understood by its potential victims, and as such, the group’s level of success will decline. While hacktivist attacks won’t end in 2013, if ever, they are expected to decline in number and sophistication.

Nation states and armies will be more frequent actors and victims of cyberthreats. Patriot groups self-organized into cyberarmies have had little impact up until this point, but their actions will improve in sophistication and aggressiveness. In 2013, many more of the world’s military units will be on the front line of social networks communicating more frequently. State-related threats will increase and make the headlines while suspicions about government-sponsored attacks will grow.

I believe such unfounded claims that soon will be denied, the dissent is rampant, social groups like Anonymous collect followers more than any other political force, so why does McAfee think to a decline of Anonymous? I may be wrong, but I completely disagree with McAfee. A cyber attack, a data breach and also a DDoS has a sensible impact on the victims, ignore it is dangerous!  Are we really able to protect our systems? The answer is no, and current events prove it, the higher the technological content of our solutions, more they are vulnerable to cyber attacks that exploit vulnerabilities hard to find.

Experts in McAfee in my opinion are not considering the impact of global economic crisis that lead companies to consider security as a cost, old and un managed systems in many cases are exposed to hacktivists and cyber criminals, it’s easy to predict the raise of the number of attacks of these components.

Let’s pass to second element I consider determinant for next year, government control will increase in sensible way, the imperative is spy-on everybody!


The popular hacktivist and Wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum opened the annual hacker meeting, the Chaos Computer Club conference, warning on the rapid building up of surveillance networks. Appelbaum has spoken about the ambitious U.S. data center, managed by NSA, that has the purpose to spy on everybody, an attack on human dignity.

“Appelbaum urged citizens to “resist the surveillance state” and rejected the notion that only people who have something to hide should fear government snooping and eavesdropping.”

I believe that is normal that a government monitors internet for homeland security but the obsession to collect any kind of information, or worse exercise control on published content in not acceptable.

Freedom of expression in a civilized society must be an unquestionable right and the direction taken by governments is opposite … Fortunately, the technology offers tools to circumvent censorship and control, learn to know them, and to use them, it is a small step toward freedom.

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