Somewhat shrouded in mystery and more than a little bit controversial, Anonymous are a group of hackers from all over the world. Some think of Anonymous as crusaders for privacy and freedom, whilst others claim the group are nothing more than cybercriminals; the real answer might be somewhere in the middle.
Love them or hate them, it is difficult to deny that the mysterious hackers in Anonymous have certainly made their presence felt on the internet since they first appeared. In 2012 they were even collectively named on Time’s “100 Most Influential People” list. As a group, Anonymous have targeted government agencies of countries such as the US, Uganda and Israel, as well as the Church of Scientology and the Westboro Baptist Church. They have also publicly stood in favor of WikiLeaks and the Occupy movement.
Anonymous are sometimes referred to as “hacktivists”, a combination of “hackers” and “activists”, although their motives are often not clear to everyone. As a group, Anonymous has a very loose structure; as such there is no leader of Anonymous, nor is there a really a group directive. At times the hacker attacks implemented by Anonymous can be seen as justified by many people, such as their targeting of child pornographers, however other attacks have seemingly less motivation, or are just done for their general amusement (“for the lulz”).
To date dozens of people have been arrested in countries around the world for hacking and DDoS attacks as part of Anonymous. Whether they are truly cyber-age Robin Hoods or cyber terrorist varies depending on who you ask, but the hackers involved in Anonymous definitely have influence of their own on the internet.