Exploring Hacktivism and the Deep Web

Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Pierluigi Paganini

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(Translated from the original Italian)

In today's society, technology plays a crucial role and is used as a cultural vehicle, an aggregation element, and vehicle to express dissent against the policies of governments and private companies.

Groups such as Anonymous are the expression of a phenomenon defined "Hacktivism" that refers the use of computers and networks to engage in social protest and to promote political ideologies.

Hacktivists use it to attack systems and architectures with both legal and illegal tools to manifest their dissent through denial-of-service attacks, information theft, data breaches, web site defacements, typosquatting and other methods of digital sabotage.

Hacktivism is carried out in the belief that the use of technical tools will be able to produce results similar to those produced by conventional activism and civil disobedience to promote a political ideology.

"[The] Anonymous collective is now the incarnation of the hacktivism concept that has monopolized the world wide attention on the phenomenon."

When we think of the hacktivism phenomena, immediately we connect it to anonymity. In fact, those who for various reasons wish to express their dissent through hacktivism, most often prefer the use of anonymity. It's clear that the ultimate context in which these people can freely exchange ideas and information is through the Deep Web.

Hacktivists are one of the most active elements currently of the Deep Web, and many consider them as the equivalent of today's Carbonari uprisings. Hacktivists are interested in the Deep Web not only because they need secure communication platform, but also because they are highly active in this cyberspace.

We must distinguish two different participative approaches to the Dark Web. Hacktivist in fact could surf in the hidden space for information gathering purposes, the “passive mode”, and also in "active mode" by conducing cyber operations similar to ones promoted in the ordinary web.

The Anonymous's #OPDarknet revealed in the end of 2011 over 1500 accounts from trading websites for pxxophiles hosted in the deep web. On that occasion, Anonymous published a communique on Pastebin which explained that their campaign hinged upon finding a Hidden Wiki listing called “Hard Candy” that they say “was dedicated to links to child pxxnography.”

During the operation they noted that most of the pxxophile content sites listed on the Hidden Wiki “shared a digital fingerprint with the shared hosting server at Freedom Hosting”, and for this reason Anonymous declared war on the hosting service.

The deep web is an ocean of information, and to find your way in this world at first approach may seem very complicated, but with good work and some guidance from the earliest voyages, it is possible to obtain satisfactory results. 

Of course, communication platforms such as social networks are as they are on the conventional web, and the Deep Web has private places where groups can exchange messages. For example, a twitter-like micro blog for the onion world that is frequented by many hacktivists is called TorStatusNet - lotjbov3gzzf23hc.onion (http://lotjbov3gzzf23hc.onion/index.php/):

(click image to enlarge)

It only exists to eavesdrop and intercept any messages that could lead to some hidden services set up by supporters of the hacktivist organization.

Continuing the theme, it is common to find groups of hacktivists that communicate also by posting on social networks within the Deep Web, and an example is provided by the platform called Mul.Tiver.se (http://ofrmtr2fphxkqgz3.onion/ ).

The concept of hacktivism promotes social criticism, however, it does not simply expose information that may be compromising security, and that surely can endanger those who wish to disclose it.

For example, we all know about WikiLeaks, the not-for-profit organization that publishes submissions of private, secret, and classified media from anonymous news sources, news leaks, and whistle blowers, and its founder Julian Assange. Assange is an activist by definition, and isknown for disclosing confidential documents and compromising security regarding the conduct of organizations and governments.

The Deep Web is a valuable resource used to collect intelligence on illicit activities committed by governments, and there are a large number of sites that provide the possibility to publish sensitive documents while preserving the anonymity of the submitter.

The Deep Web is recognized as a powerful instrument for sharing and divulging compromised files, and it represents a viable option to anybody that desires to disclose document information anonymously.

The practice of hacktivism also employs the Dark Web for sharing information and consultation on the sources in total anonymity.

When we speak of hacktivism in reality, we exemplify the very concept of social dissent as it is known and which can be expressed in various forms to address specific social issues. We have talked for instance of child pxxnography, politics, and intelligence, but the phenomenon is extremely complex and may also be employed by religious institutions or nonprofit organizations.

Wandering around the web in search of dark politics, occultism, Spy vs. Spy and revolution topics, we can find the site called "Heidenwut"(http://hq3hmoa4thdplmta.onion/) whose disclaimer reads:

“This site is for those interested in effective revolutionary strategies, occultism, politics, and all other things in regards to overthrowing the system that we have all come to hate. I, Heiden the webmaster of this site am one of the few people on Tor who really need to be on the undernet. Which means that this site is not just another right or left wing whine-fest nor the millionth re-post of the anarchist cookbook."

The web site proposes a lot of stuff not only related to hacktivism, but it is also considered a valuable source of information for those that search for uncomfortable truths that could inspire their operations.

Despite the fact that Anonymous is considered the icon of the hacktivism movement, many other groups use the Deep Web to arrange their political operations and promote new ideas and forms of protest.

One of them is the Movement of Torism - an organized group of the broader Tor movement that defines itself as “action-oriented” and ready to defend the right to the anonymity... and it's just a drop in the huge ocean of the information.

This article attempts to provide some examples of the close relationship between hacktivism and the Deep Web, which is rich with websites of interest to the community of activists... you just have to go in search.

Cross-posted from Security Affairs

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Post Rating I Like this!
48062676f7b2fc521b0b32a3c6494469
gaToMaLo r. amores Freedom of speech is still alive in the Dark Web, I may not agree with you, but I defend your right to say it.
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03b2ceb73723f8b53cd533e4fba898ee
Pierluigi Paganini that's correct gaTo!
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