Hacktivism is alive and well, if a bit weird, in 2020, says Gabriella Coleman, a cultural anthropologist specializing in hacker culture at McGill University.
At the end of June, Twitter banned the account of the hacker collective Distributed Denial of Secrets (DDoSecrets) and blocked links to “BlueLeaks,” the group’s data trove of 270 gigabytes of data containing internal records from more than 200 police departments.
The hacktivist collective Anonymous also returned to prominence, as its members took actions to support Black Lives Matter protesters, including getting legions of Korean pop-music super fans to participate in social-media disruptions.
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“BlueLeaks shows that there’s still a lot of interest in activist hacking,” Coleman says. “In the context of the English-speaking world, DDoSecrets is the hinge between the WikiLeaks and Anonymous era, and the contemporary movement. They created a platform to keep leaking alive. If it wasn’t for them, it would be much dimmer. It’s still dim because it’s such a high-risk behavior.”
While high-risk technical hacks aren’t currently dominating headlines, the Twitter hijack and BlueLeaks episodes reveal that hackers are still looking to access secure data — and their reasons remain varied.
One thing that might temper planned hacktivist actions could be “the hammer of the state,” in the form of aggressive law enforcement, says Coleman, author of Hacker, Hoaxer, Whistleblower, Spy: The Many Faces of Anonymous.
DDoSecrets has said they’re prepared for the U.S. government to come after them, but Coleman isn’t so sure. “The question is whether BlueLeaks will be stamped out in the next few months. But the blocking and censorship makes them more visible,” she says.
This story was originally commissioned by Dark Reading. Read the full story here.