Hacktivism: What Is It? Is It Legal?

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Once you combine hacking the internet with fighting for a social cause, that’s where hacktivism lies.

There are simply two words here – hacking and activism.

And it’s commonly used to get government interest in this tech-inclined era.

However, is hacktivism a good or bad cause?

Here, I did reveal all you need to know about hacktivism.

Let’s get started.

What is Hacktivism?

Hacktivism (also known as internet activism) is the abuse of computer-based techniques such as hacking to promote a social cause. Most forms of hacktivism are often related to free speech, freedom of informational movement, and other forms of human rights.

Those who engage in hacktivism are known as hacktivists and are usually individuals with bright minds. A hacktivist performs acts such as extracting secret information, revealing such information to the public, all to gain visibility for their social cause.

Who Do Hacktivists Target?

Anyone considered to be a bad influence on the general public is a potential target to hacktivists. That could include governmental agencies, top-multinationals, or another entity.

No matter the social cause, gaining access to unauthorized information through hacking is a criminal act. Hence this type of hacking is not an ethical act under any jurisdiction.

What Motivates Hacktivists?

Hacktivism is sparked when an individual or group (often tech genius) notices a social illness around an organized system. The nature of hacktivism itself comes from an ideology that things have to follow a moral pattern. Motivations around hacktivism include:

  • Revenge
  • Political or social incentives
  • Protest
  • Desire to embarrass an organization.
  • Or just sheer vandalism

Overall, hacktivists aim to question government and other organizations that go against their perceived moral position.

Hacktivism Example

There are several hacktivist groups worldwide, all working towards a social cause or goal. Most current groups aim to get the government to be transparent in their dealings with people. The one with the attention-grabbing figure is a hacktivist group known as “Anonymous”.

Anonymous started in 2003, and they are famous for good, bad, and ugly events. It set out its root through an online image-based bulletin board known as 4chan. Anonymous group uses symbols of a Guy Fawkes mask and “man without the head” image.

These symbols represent the facts that they have no leader overseeing their social cause. There are situations where anonymous did block accounts of individuals on social networks. Another significant event from anonymous involves revealing a video involving secret activities around the Church of Scientology.

They did go further to take down the church’s website. This group is now famous for their campaigns of non-violent online tests using DDoS attacks on their targets.

The new media has testified about the activities of the Anonymous group over the years. In 2011, this group broke into many government agencies, stole sensitive information, and launched native attacks on E-commerce websites.

Around 2012, there were multiple attacks on Amazon, PayPal, and Visa by WikiLeaks to halt their source of funding.

Hacktivism is a brutal force to reckon with, and it has been a significant cause of mass disruption and instability. 

Felix Olsson

Felix Olsson is a VPN and web security expert. He is a tech enthusiast who loves testing VPN services and the latest developments in the cybersecurity world. You'll often find him either reading privacy policies or testing a new service or device.

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