Anonymous — the scattered, non-hierarchical and anarchistic hacker group best known for their prolonged campaign against Scientology — have transitioned recently not only into a pro-WikiLeaks group, but also into fervent supporters of revolution in the Middle East. Yesterday, about 500 members of the group worked to crash the websites of Egypt’s Ministry of Information and President Hosni Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, just as they promised to, following similar attacks in Tunisia and with Yemen next on their schedule.
The New York Times reports:
The attacks, Mr. Housh said, are part of a wider campaign that Anonymous has mounted in support of the antigovernment protests that have roiled the Arab world. Last month, the group shut down the Web sites of the Tunisian government and stock exchange in support of the uprising that forced the country’s dictator, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, to flee.
A bulletin in the Anonymous chat room dedicated to Operation Yemen boasts about taking down the Yemeni Ministry of Information’s website: “http://mtit.gov.ye… We Iz Down.” The website of Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh is offline too—probably the work of the Anonymous. The Operation Yemen chat room is quiet now, but it’s safe to say chatter will start up once Yemenis take to the street. Some Anonymous members have already drawn up a list of Yemeni websites to target.
Could President Obama function without his official website? Without a doubt — and this in a country where more than 75 percent of people are internet users. So in the case of the Middle East, the hacking is little more than a symbolic showing of faraway solidarity. Moreover, considering how few of the actual protesters will ever know of the action, it’s likely just a power play for respect from fellow distant spectators to admire. But that doesn’t mean their reach isn’t impressive. Just think of it as one more headache for any struggling regime.