Monday, November 5, 2012

Movie Reviewed, We are Legion: The Story of Hactivists

We are Legion:  The Story of Hactivists[1] is a documentary taking viewers inside the security hacktivist organization, Anonymous.  The film explores computer hacking subculture, early hacker organizations like Cult of the Dead Cow and Electronic Disturbance Theater, and provides history around Anonymous and where it's heading.

Many of us have heard news about the group Anonymous in the popular media and press lately.  But what is the group Anonymous?  Who is in charge?  What are their goals?  Following is the quick rundown.

What is Anonymous?
Anonymous not a group of angry teenagers pranking computers for fun.  Anonymous is a large group of hacktivists spanning many countries.

Who is in charge?
To quote the movie, "Anonymous is like a flock of birds".  When one bird changes direction sometimes the entire flock follows.  Leaders emerge from the group from time to time and people with like interests rally behind the leader.  For leaders, group relevance is determined by the number of people rallying behind your cause.  There is more than one leader since there is more than one cause.

What are Anonymous's goals?
The goals of the group change as group leadership changes.  The goals today are not the same goals as when the group started.  In fact, some of Anonymous original leadership discusses their differences in opinion with the newer leadership.

A number of individuals where interviewed throughout the program in particular, Chris Wysopal (Twitter @weldpond) CTO of Veracode.  Chris is a very talented and outspoken security researcher[2] and provides some hacking commentary including Blackhat conference origins.  The film also raises interesting points of view.  For instance, the film frames Anonymous as, hactivists, and describes their activities largely as forms of political protest or civil disobedience   The group uses technology means to demonstrate their causes like, Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS), web site defacement,  DOSing phone lines, trolling, even fake pizza delivery orders to harass individuals are considered fair game.  All of these are activities are painted as forms of political protest.  Sure, DDoS attacks are disruptive but no different than "sit ins" or picket lines (in the groups eyes).  I never thought of a DDoS attack as a form of political protest but it surely could be.  The world is changing fast and how we organize and protest is changing as well.

Thumbs up!  If your a security professional or interested in computer security it's a good movie to see.

[1] "We Are Legion | The Story of Hactivists." We Are Legion. Luminantmedia.com, n.d. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. <http://wearelegionthedocumentary.com/>.
[2] "Chris Wysopal." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Oct. 2012. Web. 06 Nov. 2012. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Wysopal>.

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