We are Anonymous

The rise and fall of hacktivism group Anonymous


What do the Dark Web, the Arab spring, and Guy Fawkes masks have in common? All of these things at one point or another have been associated with the hacktivist group Anonymous. 

What is Anonymous?

Anonymous is an internet hacktivist group composed of members from all over the world who call themselves Anons. A hallmark sign of Anonymous members are the Guy Fawkes masks they wear in videos or in rallies. Here are three of Anonymous’s most well known hacks.

A rally in support of Anonymous in Budapest (Reuters/Bernadett Szabo)

2008 Project Chanology: 

Anonymous first gained traction for their condemnation of the church of Scientology. Anons claimed that Scientology infringed upon their members freedom of speech and financially exploited their members. Anons hacked the Church of Scientology’s website, prank called, and prank faxed Scientology centers. Anons also held in-person protests in front of Scientology centers all over the world. The estimated turnout for these protests ranged from 7000-8000 people. 

Thumbnail of video Anonymous posted addressing Scientology (Youtube)

2011 Operation Tunisia: 

In the wake of the Arab Spring, Anonymous members joined the fight against the Tunisian government by carrying out DDoS attacks on 8 different government sites including that of the president, prime minister, ministry of industry, ministry of foreign affairs, and the stock exchange. A DDoS (Denial of Service) attack is when a hacker or group of hackers overloads a certain website with an obscenely large amount of traffic, causing the website to temporarily shut-down. The Tunisia government responded by making these sites inaccessible outside of Tunisia and by arresting activists and bloggers supposedly tied to Anonymous. 

Protests against Tunisian government (Evan Hill Al Jazeera)

2013 Operation North Korea:  

In April of 2013, Anonymous announced its most ambitious project so far. The group had started the operation titled “Free Korea”. They claimed that they had access to over 15,000 memberships records of Uriminzokkiri.com, North Korea’s state controlled news website, and would release them if the government did not convert to democracy. Anonymous also claimed that they had access to military documents, and said they would release them on June 25, 2013, but no documents have ever been released. 

The Logo of Anonymous Korea (screengrab)

Anonymous in Current Times: 

Throughout the years Anonymous has both taken on the image of a vigilante justice group and a major security threat. However, in 2013, the government was able to clamp down on hacktivist attacks, curbing the number of politically targeted attacks. In February of 2012, Interpol announced that it had arrested 25 suspected hackers a part of Anonymous, and since 2017 have been under the radar. Anonymous made their return to the internet by showing their support for the Black Lives Matter movement in June of 2020, and have since resumed their hacking activities.