Many of the cyber attacks that we hear about every day are launched by individual and often opportunistic hackers. However, there are also more theatrical and targeted groups organising more intensive campaigns, often more motivated by ideology than profit.
CBR looks at some of the major hacktivist groups on the internet.
Anonymous is one of the most famous hacking collectives because of its high-profile targets and general sense of theatre.
Many of the attacks have been focused on the financial sector, which is at the heart of Anonymous’s critique of modern society.
In May 2016, Anonymous launched Operation Icarus, which was a 30-day cyber campaign that targeted the London Stock Exchange, PayPal and NASDAQ.
Anonymous also launched attacks against Islamic State.
The collective originated in 2003 on the website 4chan. It uses a decentralised command structure with a dispersed network of individual hackers.
The group’s motto is as follows: “Anonymous is an idea that cannot be broken…even by traitors. WE ARE ANONYMOUS. WE ARE A LEGION. WE DO NOT FORGIVE. WE DO NOT FORGET. EXPECT US.”
2. Impact Team
The Impact Team gained notoriety after it hacked into the extramarital affair website, Ashley Madison.
The hackers appeared to be pursuing a vendetta against Ashley Madison’s owner, Avid Life Media, which they accused of lying to its customers.
In a statement on Reddit, the Impact Team attacked the company for allegedly having “thousands of fake female profiles”, with 90 to 95 percent of actual users being male.
It is not clear what other hacks, if any, that the Impact Team has been involved with or responsible for.
3. FANCY BEAR
FANCY BEAR has been in headlines recently over a number of hacks, particularly ones involving the Olympics.
The collective, claiming to stand for “fair play and clean sport”, launched its #OpOlympics campaign this summer. FANCY BEAR claims to have hacked into World Anti-Doping Agency databases.
Recently FANCY BEAR has revealed medical information about top American athletes Serena Williams, Venus Williams and Simone Biles.
The ThreatConnect Research team and Fidelis Cybersecurity also collaborated to investigate hacks of the Democratic National Convention earlier this summer and said that FANCY BEAR was involved.
Cyber security companies including those above believe that FANCY BEAR is based in Russia.
“We’ll keep on telling the world about doping in elite sports,” the group posted on its website.
PoodleCorp’s first major stunt was an attack on the servers of the popular augmented reality game Pokémon Go.
Users were unable to access the game or found it freezing after PoodleCorp launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the game’s servers.
Players of a new beta of the video game Battlefield 1 recently saw their activity disrupted after a suspected distributed denial of service hit Electronic Arts’s servers.
The motivations of PoodleCorp are unclear.
PoodleCorp announced that it had “officialy” come to an end on its website, stating defiantly: “nobody has made us quit, but our own mind.”
However, the post concluded with the ominous hashtag ‘#Summer2017’, suggesting that the world may not have seen the last of PoodleCorp.
Indeed, on 17 September, the group returned to Twitter with the message ‘Hello.’, beginning a new spate of attacks, so it is unclear what the significance of the message on its website was.
PoodleCorp has promised an attack on Battlefield on 21 October.
5. Lizard Squad
Lizard Squad is another hacking group that has often focused on gaming-related hacks, including on the PlayStation Network, League of Legends and Destiny.
In Autumn 2015, Lizard Squad claimed responsibility for a DDoS attack on the website of the National Crime Agency which seemed intended to embarrass the organisation for operations designed to capture users of Lizard Squad tools. Operation Vivarium led to the arrests of six UK citizens using the hacking group’s Lizard Stresser DDoS tool.
Lizard Squad’s Twitter account blasted the UK internet police as “the biggest jokes”, directly tweeted to the NCA saying “come @ me” and claimed that the logs used in the recent arrests “contain zero credibility.”
Lizard Squad has been less active recently, with its Twitter account only tweeting 11 times in the last 90 days. Most of these tweets have been focused on promoting the work of compatriots PoodleCorp.
Some members of Lizard Squad have been arrested and convicted, including ‘obnoxious’, Vinnie Omari and Julius Kivimaki.