Hacktivist collective Anonymous posted an ominous warning over the weekend, promising of many more cyberattacks to come in 2013.
As well as posting the statement “Expect us 2013”, the collective also posted a video detailing its exploits over the last twelve months, such as its attack on sites belonging to the FBI and Department of Justice in response to their shutting down popular file-hosting website MegaUpload.
The video also highlights a series of successful ‘operations’ carried out by Anonymous last year, including Operation Big Brother, conducted to protest against surveillance regulations around the world, its campaign to shut down ACTA legislation, and Operation Syria, which exposed government emails and attempted help Syrian citizens get online when their communications went down.
Anonymous promised that 2013 would see lots of similar action with the following statement posted online:
“The video was made in teamwork by Anons around the world and it content belongs to the Internet. This is only an excerpt from the actions of Anonymous during 2012. The operations which are listed in the video are only examples, there are far more operations. Some of them still running like Operation Syria.
We are still here.
Corrupt governments, organizations, corporations and all those fags left, Expect Us.”
As well as its promises, it seems as if Anonymous is also trying to recruit new foot soldiers to carry out its missions. A new campaign, #OpNewBlood, points potential new recruits in the right direction if they think they have what it takes to become Anonymous ‘material’.
But could it be that #OpNewBlood is a sign of weakness within the collective? According to the security firm McAfee Labs, it might just be. Last week it made the bold prediction that 2013 could see the collective begin to wane, saying that its “effectiveness” and popularity would suffer due to its disorganized structure and the numerous false claims it has made.
“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.”
This statement seems a bit presumptive to say the least. McAfee doesn’t back up its claims with any kind of evidence, leading one to suspect that its theory is merely an ‘opinion’ and nothing more. As it is, there has been no evidence to suggest that the collective is declining in any way, shape or form, irrespective of how ‘unstructured’ it may be.
On the contrary, it would appear that the opposite is true – that Anonymous’ prestige has grown considerably over the last twelve months, and if anything will continue to grow during 2013. Admittedly the group still relies on mostly crude methods to achieve its aims (DDoS attacks, for example), but it has begun to show some initiative recently – hacking websites, defacing them, and stealing sensitive data.
As for is disorganized structure, well this could actually be seen as a strength rather than a weakness. Being organized would make it far easier for authorities to put a stop to the group’s antics, but the fact that it doesn’t have a recognized leader or spokesperson guarantees it a level of protection.
More than anything else though, it seems that Anonymous enjoys doing what it does, feeding on the massive publicity that its actions generate. So long as it continues to make headlines, there’s no reason why it would stop.