As destructive as hackers can be on their own, they’re even worse when they’re in a group. With the most recent attack on Sony’s Playstation Network and a number of other major sites, we thought it’d be pertinent to list some of the most famous collectives, their ethos, and the damage they’ve done–so far.
Most known for their support of Wikileaks and its founder, hacker and self-proclaimed journalist Julian Assange, Anonymous is a large, decentralized group of hackers that focuses on political attacks. Earlier this year, Anonymous hacked into the Sony Playstation network in what was seen as a protest against the entertainment giant’s support for stricter Internet piracy laws. They also headed Operation Payback–perhaps best described as the combined effort of experienced hackers and laypeople to launch DDoS (denial of service) attacks against various websites for their anti-Wikileaks practices. (These include Amazon, PayPal, and Visa, among others.) At least 20 arrests were made against alleged participators in the attack in the United States, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Anonymous has also been shown to be behind attacks on various Scientology-themed websites, the Orlando, Florida chamber of commerce, and the Malaysian government, among countless others. Most recently, they teamed up with newcomer hacker group LulzSec to coordinate attacks against a number of government websites.
Masters of Deception:
Masters of Deception, an NYC-based underground group, was originally meant as a mockery of Legions of Doom–and an alternative to their supposed lost direction, as many members had been investigated at that point. MoD was famous for downloading and exposing the credit card information of celebrities. Five MoD members were indicted and sentenced in 1993 after a widespread investigation by the FBI.
Legion of Doom:
The Legion of Doom, formed by hacker Lex Luthor, was based in Texas. Enemies of the group Masters of Deception, this group often published technical journals detailing their extensive hacking knowledge. The group was formed in the 1980s and revived in early 2000. Though many say that the Legion of Doom group was most well-known for their contributions to hacking knowledge–and did not really cause any serious damage to any networked infrastructure–many point to the fact that individual hackers were often charged with causing damages to telephone systems as evidence against their “white hat” hacker status. In the years 1990-1991, Legion of Doom engaged in a “Great Hacker War” with Masters of Deception.
Milw0rm was a group of skilled teenage hackers that considered themselves “hacktivists”–politically-motivated hackers. Their claim to fame was attacking BARC–the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre–in Mumbai, India as part of an anti-nuclear protest in 1998. More specifically, the hackers gained access to secret documents and emails about nuclear tests, posted an anti-nuclear proclamation on the center’s website, and erased data on two different servers. The aftermath of the attacks led to weeks-long debate over the integrity of government internet security systems, the morality of “hacktivism,” and the scope of the word “cyberterrorism.”
Chaos Computer Club:
Based in Germany, the Chaos Computer Club–or CCC–was founded in Berlin, and has been active since 1981. The group proclaims that its aim is to promote open communication and the free, transparent flow of information worldwide. It has over 4,000 members, and describes itself quite eccentrically as “…a galactic community of life forms, independent of age, sex, race, or societal orientation, which strives across borders for freedom of information…” They’ve been profiled for hacking into U.S. government computers and for their liaisons with the KGB, but are most famous for hacking a Berlin building and somehow turning its face into a giant computer screen. The group also managed to snag the fingerprints of the German Minister of the Interior and publish them.