Anonymous (Internet group). (December 14, 2010). Retrieved November 3, 2011, from
http://topics.nytimes.com/top/reference/timestopics/organizations/a/anonymous_internet_group/index.html?scp=1&sq=Anonymous%20(Internet%20Group)&st=cse.

Anonymous is a group of computer hackers who first came together a couple of years ago by way of online message boards such as 4chan.org to create mischief that was relatively unnoticeable to the majority of the world. With the infamous rise of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, the group began to take on major corporate and government web sites. WikiLeaks, a website which leaked hundreds of thousands of secret documents and cables from the State Department of the United States. The scandal caused a huge stir in the political world, for obvious reasons, and Secretary State Hilary Clinton had to apologize to various world world leaders for the information revealed in the WikiLeaks.

After Julian Assange was arrested on charges of sexual assault in Sweden, with many believing the arrests were actually for his hackings, hundreds of members of Anonymous announced they would take revenge on those organizations that fought against Julian Assange and tried to keep him and the Anonymous group down. They carried through on this promise on December 8, 2010, with a hack on MasterCard. MasterCard had been processing donations for the WikiLeaks site and had stopped after the scandal arose. While it cannot be proved that it was members of Anonymous that hacked the company, the group claims responsibility for the action as part of “Operation Payback”. Operation Payback also targeted PayPal, Visa.com, and the web sites of the Assange’s prosecutors. Operation Payback was Anonymous’ way to retaliate against those that had tried to stop the free and open file-sharing and downloading of the Internet, which Anonymous feels entitled to under the right of free speech.

Anonymous is truly what it name says, an anonymous group. It is completely unknown who its leaders are and what the hierarchy, if any, is within the group. What is known is that the group has multiplied quickly, both in its participants and in its power. “Power” in that the technological skills of the group has grown, and that they are slowly building a bigger presence. While they have not done any hacking that has been so major as to shut down a company (for example, the MasterCard website was shut down but online transactions could still take place), the group of hackers have made an impact and put fear into major corporations, a situation described as “cyberanarchists raling against the elites”. It is not unimaginable that the hacking attacks could escalate.

Anonymous, basically, is a hacking group that grew out of Internet message boards, 4chan being a huge player, composed of young, technologically savvy anarchists who originally began acting out in a random way over the Internet to create mischief. Within a few years the group has grown to be a major player in the cyber world by “attacking” companies via hacking their systems in an attempt to take back the free flow of information the Internet provides.