You might well have heard of the hacking group, Anonymous, but who are they? Well the clue is in the name really – nobody knows who they are and that’s the way they want to keep it. Nobody knows how many of them there are either, but their activities are often widely known.

In 2015 the group launched a massive denial of service attack on Turkish websites, shutting down over 40,000 websites with a .tk extension. That’s no easy task, but why did they do it? Well it was a response to the Turkish government’s alleged support of terror group, ISIS, who they had declared war on following the Charlie Hebdo attack in Paris in the same year. They had already attempted to “out” as many ISIS members as possible with leaked personal details, social media accounts and email address of supposed members.

Anonymous are clearly not to be trifled with, but if we don’t know how they are, what do we actually know?


Anonymous origins

The group first appeared in 2008 with a goal of fighting censorship and social injustice. Their members are seen sporting Guy Fawkes masks that were popularised by the film V for Vendetta and they are quite intimidating when assembled in large numbers.

Anonymous has no actual leader and are a collective. How they make decisions is anybody’s guess as they surely all couldn’t attend a meeting without others becoming suspicious.

Public opinion is divided over Anonymous. Some applaud what they are doing or trying to do, whereas others see them as a group of troublemakers who should “get real jobs”.

Large corporations and governments especially dislike them given the group’s propensity for releasing damning, sensitive information and putting them in a bad light.


Nobody is off limits

This is well evidenced by their beef with ISIS and the Turkish government. Anonymous are not afraid to take on anyone who they feel is threatening social justice or human rights.

No individual or organisation can escape them and they have gone after several major institutions in their time.

They have attacked the Westboro Baptist Church’s  hatefulness with an online campaign, they removed the Vatican website because of allegations of child sexual abuse which surrounded the Catholic church and they doctored the website of  a company who were profiting from Middle Eastern war, Combined Systems.

In fact they will go after anyone at all. They aren’t even scared of Donald Trump.


They won’t be crossed

A membership of some societies is guaranteed for life, but not with Anonymous.

WikiLeaks founder and Anonymous ally, Julian Assange, discovered this. They helped the site deliver sensitive information and blow the whistle on a variety of dubious activity and even fought against opposition of the site. Assange decided there was money in it an put up a paywall. Anonymous disagreed with this and ceased all assistance to WikiLeaks, leaving them to fight their own dirty battles.

Once Assange had gone into hiding with a string of allegations following him they would most likely have done the same anyway.


They use technology

And they don’t. A lot of Anonymous’ attacks involve hacking websites and disrupting servers, but they sometimes prank people in more obvious ways too.

In an attack on the Church of Scientology they puled the old ‘phoning a pizza for someone else who hasn’t ordered it’ scam multiple times. They also faxed black pages to them repeatedly. This will use all of the recipient’s ink and tie up their phone lines, causing more disruption than you might think.

The worst thing the group did in this instance was to send a young member into one of their churches covered in petroleum jelly, body hair and toenails. The young recruit then proceeded to smear himself against every available surface in the place.

Childish pranks, yes, but effective all the same.


They oppose censorship

This is more than a little ironic given that they censor their own identity, but they detest the infringement of free speech. Anyone who tries to cover up things that are said which they don’t like – and we’re talking generally government and big business here – will be on the receiving end of an Anonymous attack.

Anonymous surely hopes nobody ever attack's them and leaks names of its members, but they surely don’t have al this information in any one place, do they?


They care for animal rights too

One teenager found this out the hard way after stupidly filming himself torturing a cat. He wore a balaclava in the video which did the rounds on the internet, but it wasn’t long before Anonymous unmasked him.

They publicly leaked his address and phone numbers and informed the police who arrested him for his actions.

Anonymous are also against whaling and have a problem with Japan’s whaling trade which has led to them attacking multiple Japanese websites, one of which was that of th Japanese prime minister – remember, nobody is off limits.


They solve crimes

Anonymous may be written off by many as keyboard warriors, but they have ensured justice has been served to private individuals too.

An American teen girl was raped whilst drunk at a party in 2011, images of which began to circulate soon after. Police had dismissed the case due to there not being enough evidence, but Anonymous really had the bit between their collective teeth. They did their own detective work and presented the names of suspected perpetrators to the police. There was so much attention on the case as a result of this that the police were forced into action and arrests were made which led to prison sentences. Justice was served.


So that’s Anonymous, frightening, yet just. We don’t know who they are, but hopefully they’ve got our backs if we are ever the victims of something heinous. And who knows, maybe your sister or your best friend is an Anonymous member? It could be anyone.

They do not forgive and they do not forget and we salute them for it.