The re-emergence of hacktivism explained: falling data and degradation for social justice

At the end of February, a hacktivist who calls himself “JaXpArO and My Little Anonymous Revival Project” entered the far-right social media platform Gab, extracting 70 gigabytes of data from mainstream databases. The attacker obtained user profiles, private posts and chat messages written by users including white supremacists, supporters of the QAnon movement, neo-Nazis and conspiracy theorists, some of whom were associated with the Capitol Hill riot on January 6.

These data were disclosed to the transparency collective Distributed denial of secrets (DDoSecrets), which now makes it available to journalists and researchers on request.

Over the past few months, the volume of data made public by hacktivists has skyrocketed as businesses host far more data than they did several years ago. “2020 set a record for the most information disclosed to the public in a single year, a record that was quickly broken in the first months of 2021.” wrote Emma Best, co-founder of DDoSecrets.

GabLeak is just one of many recent incidents. At the beginning of January, DDoSecrets published a collection of over a million videos uploaded by a hacktivist from the right-wing social network Speak. Some of them were recorded during the Capitol Hill riot.

Many of these acts tend to be politically motivated, but a few also expose ways in which technology can be used against people. In March, hacktivists raped security camera startup Verkada, exposing footage from more than 150,000 organizations, including Tesla, Cloudflare, schools, prisons, hospitals and police stations. Swiss hacker Tillie Kottmann, who was associated with the hack, said Bloomberg why they did it: “a lot of curiosity, a fight for freedom of information and against intellectual property, a huge dose of anti-capitalism, a hint of anarchism – and it’s also too fun not to have it. to do.”

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Estelle D. Eden

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