For months we’ve been reading about hacker groups like Lulz Security who reportedly have no agenda other than to create mayhem and laugh-snort at their own clever online exploits.
The media were quick to romanticize LulzSec, christening them “keyboard anarchists” and giggling over their Edwardian stick figure mascot and ironic Love Boat theme. As for their mission or purpose — they supposedly didn’t have one. According to one of their communiqués, they hacked various government and corporate websites just because they could.
Their attacks were waged in the great wasteland of cyberspace, where they posted muddled manifestos — more evidence of a generation that learned to write by texting and tweeting — full of esoterica about memes and nodes which anyone born before 1990 doesn’t understand and doesn’t want to.
They were joined by other hacker collectives with handles like Anonymous, Anti-Sec, Anonops, Indishell and LulzRaft. The “Lulz” that keeps showing up in their noms de guerre reportedly stands for lol or “laugh out loud,” which is ironic, since the hackers are decidedly not funny. Here’s one sample of LulzSec’s legendary wit:
For the past month and a bit, we’ve been causing mayhem and chaos throughout the Internet, attacking several targets including PBS, Sony, Fox, porn websites, FBI, CIA, the U.S. government, Sony some more, online gaming servers… Sony again, and of course our good friend Sony.
But, as Paul Carr pointed out at the Guardian website, many of the above were not “hacked” in any meaningful sense. “[T]heir public websites were brought down by an avalanche of traffic — a so-called ‘distributed denial-of-service’ (DDoS) attack. Given enough internet-enabled typewriters, a monkey could launch a DDoS attack — except that mentally subnormal monkeys have better things to do with their time,” Carr wrote.
Like a five-year-old on the diving board, the hackers are desperate for attention. They’re obsessed with social media and with following their ever-increasing news coverage. The fawning coverage seems to be working. LulzSec’s Twitter feed has almost 260,000 followers.
On occasion, LulzSec claimed to have a nobler purpose than plain old mischief, i.e., to expose holes in security. Again, the media cooed: You see, they really are good, public-spirited hearted rascals!
But in recent weeks LulzSec took on a more political tone (leftist politics, of course.) This from yet another communiqué: “Hackers of the world are uniting and taking direct action against our common oppressors — the government, corporations, police, and militaries of the world.” Their discourse has grown increasingly incoherent and militant, threatening (ironically, no doubt) to kill hacker-traitors, and warning that “Cannonballs will fire at banks, police, and entire governments until we (the internet) are satisfied,” and encouraging “any vessel, large or small, to open fire on any government or agency that crosses their path.”
They have also taken on the familiar bearded-hipster causes: fewer government regulations, pro-immigration laws, legalization of drugs, eradication of copyright laws.
And, of course, anyone who writes negatively about them risks having his personal information hacked and posted on the web for all the world to steal.
All in good fun, of course.
BUT NOW THEY may have gone too far. In retaliation for SB 1070 (an Arizona anti-illegal-immigration law), LulzSec posted the personal information of law enforcement officers and their families. “Our guys are out there doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and they put themselves in harm’s way every single day,” Jimmy Chavez, president of the Arizona Highway Patrol Association told the Los Angles Times. “They don’t need any additional pressure on them from a — let’s just call it what it is — a terrorist organization.”
This, and a high-profile attack on the CIA, has gotten the attention of the Obama Administration. Officials want to sentence those convicted of breaking into government computer networks or compromising national security to up to twenty years in federal prison.
The ironic anarchists’ fans in the media don’t like this one bit. Trevor Butterworth in The Daily predicted the legislation will backfire, and that “more stringent crackdowns and restrictive laws… will push some hackers to even more extreme responses.”
Like what? Angrier Tweets? Military-grade spam? Adopting the Three’s Company theme song for their home page? It’s not like these modern-day anarchists are going to assassinate a leading industrialist. That would mean leaving the basement. And the only time you’ll get these slackitivists out of their houses in when the FBI kicks down their parents’ door and drags them off to the hoosegow.
Then we’ll see who’s LOL and whose SOL.