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October 2012

The hacktivist threat to enterprise security

Ask Adam O'Donnell the difference between hacktivists today and those 15 years ago or more, and you won't get a simple answer. Technology has changed, social norms are different and political motivations are diverse. "Back then there was less interest in the techniques of breaking into people's systems and exposing data that you see today," says O'Donnell, a noted antimalware expert and early hacker before he founded Immunet, which was acquired by security vendor Sourcefire. "Today it's like a decentralized religion; there's an ethos and anyone can label themselves of being part of it… and some groups are more bent in one direction or another, but they're all under the same value system: sticking a finger in the eye of the man." Indeed, today's hacktivists – notably those affiliated with Anonymous – are slightly different than the original hacktivists groups, such as Cult of the Dead Cow (cDc). Experts say the cDc was more centralized, granting membership to individuals based on their skills. The cDc's aim mainly was to defend ...

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