Hacktivism: dangerous new social conscience

Johannesburg, 23 Mar 2012
Read time 1min 50sec

Hacktivism is growing fast as a means to challenge authority, and there's little that can be done to stop it, says Infosec.

Hacktivism - hacking into an organisation's site and data to make a point - is on the rise, says Bevan Lane, Director at Infosec Consulting.

The worrying thing about this is that it's increasingly widespread, and that hacktivist groups appear to have succeeded in accessing all their targets.

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Lane, who will speak at the upcoming ITWeb Security Summit, in Sandton, in May, says the majority of high-profile hacks committed in recent months appear to have been committed by groups who feel they are taking the moral high ground.

“And these hacks extend far beyond the defacing of a Web site,” he says. “The hacktivists frequently take information from the target and make it public to prove a point.”

While hacktivists may be seen as cult heroes and feel justified in doing this, the target organisation may suffer serious reputational and financial damage as a result, says Lane.

Lane says few local companies have been the targets of hacktivist attacks yet, but this is likely to change. Globally, major government organisations, corporates and financial institutions have already been targets in a number of high-profile attacks.

Lane says hacktivist groups may number hundreds of individuals working together around the world, and have scores of sympathisers.

Because they usually succeed in breaching their targets' security, more needs to be done to guard against such attacks, and mitigate damage, says Lane.

“Organisations must have plans in place,” says Lane. “There's a need for security professionals, corporates and IT to come together to prepare contingency plans, conduct risk assessments and make action plans to mitigate damage. We should be asking: 'if they were to attack us today, would they be able to get information from us, and how could we avoid embarrassment?'”

The annual ITWeb Security Summit will take place from 15 - 17 May 2012 at the Sandton Convention Centre. For more information and to book your seat, go to

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