Online Activism to Cybercrime

Online Activism to Cybercrime

Anita W. McMurtry, Larry D. Stewart, Curtis L. Todd
Copyright: © 2020 |Pages: 13
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-9715-5.ch022
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This article defines hacktivism and provides an overview and background on the development, challenges, and activities associated with the term. It further discusses hacktivism involving political elections, financial records, and dangers to society posed by hacktivists. Coverage was assigned to solutions which involved a multi-country response, addressing infrastructure weaknesses in those countries, technological challenges such as phreaking, and target hardening involving modern day institutions. Solutions, recommendations, and implications for future research are provided.
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Hacktivism: A Contextual Definition

Derived from combining the words “hack” and “activism”, the term “Hacktivism” was first coined in 1996 by Omega, a member of the hacker collective Cult of the Dead Cow (Dyer, 2018). The group created an organization espousing that freedom of information was a basic human right. The group designed software to circumvent censorship controls on the Internet that some governments used to prevent citizens from seeing certain content. Hacktivism is mainly portrayed in society as the transposition of demonstrations, civil disobedience, and low-level information warfare into cyberspace (Dyer, 2018). Hacktivists are the modern equivalent of political protesters, and the rise in hacktivist activity may be due in part to the growing importance of the Internet as a means of communication. Besides hackers who are in it for profit, there are hackers who break into systems to point out security flaws, and there are those who want to bring attention to a cause. The latter however, typically come in the form of virtual political activists who have adapted their methods of dissent into digital platforms, an act known as Hacktivism. Individuals proclaiming themselves as “hacktivists” often work secretly, sometimes operating in discreet groups while other times operating as individuals with cyber-world identities all consistent with the stated purpose of gaining public access and power in today’s society (Sengupta, 2012).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Criminal Justice System: A system inclusive of law enforcement, the courts, and correctional practices established to control crime and penalize violators.

Hacker Ethics: Principles and ideologies that are shared in hacker culture.

USA Patriot Act: The Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act of 2001 which granted the federal government increased control in monitoring and interrupting networks in order to counterbalance terrorist attacks.

Activism: A strategy implementing a form of forceful demonstration in order to bring about partisan or societal transformation.

Hacking: Manipulation of a technological device to acquire data unlawfully within a system.

Computer Fraud and Abuse Act: This 1986 Act serves as a modification to existing laws seeking to address issues of deception within the cyber realm. Computer users must receive proper authorization and must not exceed boundaries of authorization.

Hacker Culture: A subculture of individuals who abuse vulnerabilities in systems for a common goal.

Cybercrime: Illegal actions conducted via any technological device, which includes hardware and software.

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