The hacking collective known as Anonymous has been making a few headlines this week, this time for knocking several prominent White Supremacist websites offline, along with the official website of the city of Charlottesville. The operation is officially called #OpDomesticTerrorism and is aimed at exposing and shutting down some of the most extreme platforms used by white supremacists and the alt-right to spread messages of hate online. However, this is not the first such operation of its kind and unfortunately, the last time Anonymous attempted something like this it backfired horribly.
You might remember #OpKKK launched in the summer of 2015? At the time, the operation got major publicity and was largely considered one of the groups largest operations in years.
While some of the names and information released as a result of this operation was indeed real, the operation was intentionally sabotaged within days of the final release. As it turns out, Anonymous had become a victim of their own success. Perhaps foolishly enough, as soon as hackers had begun to make serious headway hacking into KKK databases, they let people know about it and began advertising a release date when they planned on dumping all of the information online for weeks in advance.
The more that Anonymous hackers publicized the event and the more publishers reported about it, the more the operation began attracting attention from just about everyone in society, including active members of the KKK and other white nationalists/supremacists organizations.
Considering that “being Anonymous” means that no one knows who you are online, quite literally anyone can join Anonymous if they really want to – all of the most popular videos even tell you such.
This is exactly where #OpKKK fell apart, when members of the KKK and other white nationalists infiltrated the group and starting posing as members of Anonymous in the weeks leading up to the final data dump. In doing so, they were able to sabotage #OpKKK from the inside and consequentially enough, proceeded to destroy Anonymous’s credibility before the real list of names was actually released.
To sabotage the operation, white nationalists started releasing fake lists of names of alleged KKK members between October 28th and November 1st 2015, including the names of sitting US Senators, Governors and mayors. Given how absurd of a notion this actually was, when it came time for Anonymous to release the real list of names, the damage had already been done and Anonymous essentially lost all credibility with the international press.
This account has NOT YET released any information. We believe in due diligence and will NOT recklessly involve innocent individuals #OpKKK
— Operation KKK (@Operation_KKK) November 2, 2015
As if this was not enough, in a clever ploy to get more exposure and attract new members, posing as members of Anonymous, white supremacists put together lists of websites ‘to launch DDoS attacks against.’ Only this was not the real reason for these lists. You see, Anonymous has a very large platform with millions of followers worldwide. For example, all of the most popular Facebook, YouTube and Twitter platforms for Anyonymous all have millions of followers around the world.
By assembling these websites and spreading them across various Anonymous channels and outlets, white supremacists were able to get their websites seen by millions of people that would have never otherwise known existed. Knowing that DDoS attacks typically only last hours at a time, the cost of these attacks was well worth the amount of exposure the websites ended up receiving in the long run.
Perhaps worse of all, after these people infiltrated Anonymous they began using many of the tools and resources they had learned about to advance their own agendas. For example, how to use social media as a form of activism, how to remain hidden online, how to encrypt communications, how to safely navigate the deep web and darknet – et cetera. Using this knowledge members of the alt-right and other organizations proceeded to spread out and multiply across the internet, many going on to form their own splinter groups.
— CST (@CST_UK) August 18, 2017
Look at where the alt-right first got their start and where the group seems to congregate in the highest numbers today, on places like reddit, 4chan and the deep web. Do you think it is any coincidence that long before the existence of the alt-right, these were all the same channels and venues popularly used by members of Anonymous? Then look at the timeline of events leading up to our present day. #OpKKK concluded in the Fall of 2015 and the alt-right proceeded to spring into national prominence in the winter-spring of 2016. Is that a coincidence all the same? Given everything I have just explained, I happen to think not.
Sadly, whether they like to admit it or not, or wanted it to happen or not, the fact of the matter is that the Anonymous hacker collective helped give birth to the alt-right movement and inadvertently helped white nationalists prosper online.
Lastly, if you are wondering how I know any of this or doubt my credibility, I don’t think it would be in my best interest to say why I know all of this. Lets just say this article is based on Anonymous sources 😉
Categories: Hacking News