Support Your Local Hackers

Anonymous
Anonymous (Photo credit: Schuilr)

Donncha O’Cearrbhail, aged 19, from Birr, Co Offaly, faces up to 15 years in prison, while Darren Martyn from Galway is facing 20 years. They have been named among six suspected members of “hacktivist” group Anonymous and splinter groups including Lulzsec, Internet Fed, and AntiSec. They are accused, among other things, of hacking the Fine Gael website, the Fox broadcasting network and a Garda/FBI conference call.  Irish Examiner

It’s good to think that Ireland could be competing at the highest level of computer security hacking. But what exactly are these young guys alleged to have done that could merit them spending the best years of their lives in jail? It depends on the the leanings of the news source you read¹. To some this is organised crime, to others it’s children playing in the woods.

There is a breadth of motivations behind a movement like Anonymous, from the high-minded to the nihilistic, but its existence is actually positive. Yes, it and its ilk cause damage to companies that costs millions, they sometimes open up documents that should legitimately be private, they behave irresponsibly. But broadly speaking this is never done for private gain. It is sometimes done with a political, freedom-of-information motive, but mostly it is done simply to show that it can be done.

Playing? Well it’s a serious game. Because if Anonymous can do it, the commercial rivals of attacked companies can probably do it too. US Federal agencies can do it. And the governments of, say, China, Russia or Iraq can certainly do it. The big difference is, they won’t let you know that they’ve done it.

 

  1. The charges involve breaches of security at both Fox and PBS, which shows an admirable lack of bias. 
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