IBM data reveals Hacktivists dead

It was time long when Threat intelligence said that hacktivism was dead. But, by the data, IBM-X Force confirms about the collapse scene of the hacktivism with activity levels sink down by 95% since 2015. Here is short analysis about the data about the decreasing percentage from the 2015 to 2019:

  • In 2015 to 2016 hacktivist attacked dropped from 35 to 24
  • 2016- 2017, in this gap, the attacks dropped to 5 at the end of 2017
  • 2018-2019, only two incidents were recorded
  • Till so far, in this year no attacks have been observed

Reasons of the decline as blamed as researchers are:

  • The death of the Anonymus hacker collective
  • A sustained crackdown by law enforcement officials

Let’s discuss the both in somewhat detail manner

The death of Anonymous

The disintegration of the Anonymous hacker collect probably be the main reason for the hacktivist collapse. It constituted of about 45% of the total hacktivist attributed security breaches.

2015 was the bumper year for the Anonymous group which ultimately brought the group to the public attention. The hackers of the group had breached companies and government networks once very before was then were found tarnishing by its involvement with political themed scheme campaign around 2016. Some of the campaigns for data stolen from political organizations on which the hackers group was found to involve in are:

  • #OpKKK (exposing KKK members),
  • #OpParis (exposing ISIS members),
  • #OpISIS (exposing ISIS members/sites),
  • #OpWhale (breaching sites of Japanese and Icelandic authorities involved in unauthorized whaling),
  • or #OpIcarus (attacking banks and financial institutions)

In 2016, a video was published by certain Anonymous members warning of “fake anons”. According to the video, governments and individuals were using the name of the Anonymous and propaganda of their own ideologies. From then, new group by splitting fromm the Anonymous, Fake Anons made into appearance which include the member that once associated with the group, were now acting on personal agendas. Further attempt were made to decrease the number of fake anons but all were unsuccessful reduced the amount of legitimate and illegitimate anonymous members overall.

Law enforcement officials warning

According to IBM, arrests and warning issues by Law enforcement official was also one of the main reasons for the successful deterrent. The Law enforcement agencies from US, UK and Turkey have arrested 62 hacktivists since 2011. From these, three are the most recent. The arrested hacktivists have prisons for 3 years or greater one of which sentences 10 years of prison.

An expert stated:

“A lot gets publicized as far as the breaches, but the follow up of accountability when the attacker gets found and sentenced – those things don’t get the same level press notoriety. From the standpoint of accountability, that type of press, those types of sentences and fines are going to stop nuisance hackers – the individuals and small criminals that are doing things out of the opportunity.”

Words from IBM,

“Acute social justice issues, greater organizational capabilities among hacktivist groups and a stronger shift to areas that lay beyond the reach of law enforcement all have the potential to dramatically change the face of hacktivism in a relatively short period of time. More likely than not, we are experiencing a lull in hacktivist activity rather than a conclusion.”

On the world having the political distresses and a questioning of authority, it is premature to declare that the hacktivists dead. However, there were many cases where something is declared dead has emerged out from the coffin to prove the detractors wrong. So, the IBM wisely concludes that.

“For the time being, the world appears to be experiencing a relative respite from hacktivist attacks, perhaps freeing defensive resources to focus on more pressing threats, such as malicious actors’ use of PowerShell, Spectre/Meltdown and inadvertent misconfiguration incidents.”