The origin of Hacktivism, the combination of hack and activism, traces back to 1998 when Omega, a member of the Cult of the Dead Crow hacker crew, coined it.
Since then, the term has been used to define a way of protest, in which computers and computer networks are used as a means remonstration to promote political ends.
According to a definition in Wikipedia, if hacking is assumed as illegally breaking into computers, then hacktivism could be defined as the nonviolent use of legal and/or illegal digital tools in pursuit of political ends. These tools may include Web site defacements, redirects, denial-of-service attacks, information theft, Web site parodies, virtual sit-ins, typosquatting and virtual sabotage.
In recent past, hacktivist groups like Anonymous and LulzSec carried various cyber attacks on different government and non-government Web sites. The reason behind all these attacks, as claimed by the hackers themselves, is to show their gripe against corruption, injustice, oppression, and violence.
Over the past one year, Wikibon and SiliconANGLE have been following the rise of several significant hacktivist groups. Now, they have come up with a visual representation of the most recent Hacktivist Timeline. Below is an infographic detailing the moves done by Anonymous and their fellow hackitivists during 2011.
According to a report in SiliconANGLE, Anonymous targets governments that suppress the freedom of their citizens to access information about what's happening in their country.
The common forms of hacktivism used are Web site defacement, DDoS or distributed denial of service attacks, and information theft. These are meant to arouse mass reaction. Some of these hacks included Operation Tunisia, Operation Egypt and Operation Libya, the report stated.
The report also talked about the Anonymous' recent cyber attack last month when the group brought down government and company Web sites following the MegaUpload's shutdown and arrest of the founder of the site, Kim Dotcom.
Anonymous' move wasn't due to MegaUpload's shutdown, it could've have been any file sharing site. The point of the attack is to protest the shutdown because it happened a day after SOPA and PIPA were put on hold, the report explained.
In a protest against the notorious Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), the hacker group struck again last week by taking down the Federal Trade Commission Web site (business.ftc.gov and consumer.ftc.gov), consumer.gov, a Web site for information on the National Consumer Protection Week 2012 (ncpw.gov) and others.
A member of the hacker group even claimed that Anonymous would bring the entire internet down on March 30 by aiming DDoS attacks at DNS root servers in an Operation Blackout attack.
Have a look at the infographic: