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LulzSec, Anonymous and The Days Of Internet Rage

Hacking seems to be on the mind of all those who utilize the Internet these days. It’s kind of a foregone conclusion that when you open something up to the vast legions of the web that it’s going to get wrecked by someone at some point. That hasn’t stopped folks from being incredibly lax about security, but this is a problem that stems from people who know little to nothing about the details making decisions in opposition to the advice they’re given from specialists.

So the high-profile hacks of late were really inevitable.

LulzSec, Anonymous and other “hacker collectives” have seen a rise in their public profile after bringing down various networks or managing to get their hands on user databases and the like. Their targets have ranged from Sony to porn sites, Nintendo to Minecraft. Probably the most embarrassing part is that most of these victims were apparently easily cracked or brought down by things that are considered the simplest tools in any fledgling hacker’s kit: DDoS attacks and SQL injection.

The obvious question here is this: why did Microsoft get a free pass? (Note: this is a joke.) But seriously, aside from Sony (due to the GeoHotz drama) the targets seem to have been chosen at random. There’s been a recent theme in terms of being related to video games, but that’s kind of a given when you consider the demographic for potential hackers. Other than that, though, it certainly seems like they’ve spun the cannons and fired. Kind of like spinning the globe and stopping it with your finger, these hacks don’t exactly seem terribly organized or constructive.

But then, assuming that they are doing it “for the lulz,” as their motto suggests, this approach seems perfectly appropriate. Destroying things for the sake of destruction isn’t some kind of new idea. It’s just made easy by the complacency of major corporations. It’s telling that Facebook–built by people who grew up with hackers–has apparently been the most resilient in defense, shutting out Facebook accounts that were associated with leaked email accounts.

Depending on the target, sometimes it’s mentioned that this is a form of civil disobedience. Sure, they’re breaking the law, but their actions are exposing security practices that are archaic at best and downright negligent at worst. In most cases, civil disobedience is the act of nonviolently breaking various laws that are considered unjust. Perhaps that definition should be changed a slight bit to consider the new digital age we live in.

That doesn’t mean we don’t have some parallels with the civil disobedience from 1960’s America. Most hacker collectives–especially those that have recently risen to celebrity-like status–strongly resemble the Weather Underground and its doctrine. Direct action is necessary for change, or so John Jacobs was often paraphrased. LulzSec rampaging through the tubes of the ‘net is sort of the equivalent of the Days of Rage.

Some might take umbrage with comparing a hacker collective to a militant group from the 60’s, but conceptually, there’s not much difference between the two other than method and level of self-importance. It’s hard to say that LulzSec takes themselves too seriously, as they sail their boat on to disturb other seas. When you take a look at what they’ve both actually done, however, there are definite similarities. Both have stretched the boundaries of civil disobedience to the very limit.

One important thing to note is exactly what happened to the Weather Underground. After splintering further and further, they finally blew up. Literally. That was the beginning of the end and they spun more and more out of control afterward. One wonders what will happen when LulzSec reaches the point where they shift from being “disobedient” to outright violent, or if they ever will. The Internet moves pretty fast.

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