On April 24 night, 250 people all around the world were logging into OnionIRC, a hidden internet relay chat network on the dark web, through their Tor browsers. The members of the chat were not there to buy drugs or exchange child pornography material. No, they joined the secure chat room to learn hacking, taught by Anonymous hacktivists, such as ”Athena” who made this statement when the course started:
“This course will cover many topics, all relevant to privacy, security, and anonymity.”
Athena and another fellow instructor, “Tyche,” gave detailed instructions on how to use the Tor browser, encrypt a hard drive and discuss the pros and cons of using a VPN. When the lesson was about over, they answered the questions of the students and promised them that their next lesson will much more ”fun”.
The hacking school could be a promising opportunity for Anonymous to gain a good reputation worldwide. They hope that they could change both the media’s and the people’s viewpoint; they won’t be seen the media as a joke and the people won’t consider them as ”a nuisance rather than a credible activist organization seeking to change the world for the better.”
They group started their hacktivism in 2011 when they carried out a high-profile attack on Sony Pictures, along with attention-grabbing campaigns against PayPal, the Church of Scientology, the Islamic State group (ISIS) and the Ku Klux Klan (KKK), the number of people affiliated with the organization started to grow. “Anon”, responsible for setting up OnionIRC, said these statements when asked by the media:
“So, here Anonymous lies, with swelling numbers and a lowered average technical understanding of hacking, not to mention a very low bar for activism. To the average hacker, Anonymous is a joke.”
“The media has seemed to largely cover the lowest-hanging fruits in Anonymous. Anonymous operations pertaining to DDoS or reporting Twitter accounts, for example, get a lot of media attention. This is good for spreading awareness of Anonymous, but it paints a false picture of what activism and hacktivism actually is.”