Rosen: Anonymous group shows power of hackers with stint in Middle East

Browsing the Internet is perhaps a more regular behavior than eating breakfast for many students across campus. AirOrangeX, the private wireless network, is equipped with a strong firewall used to fend off malicious software from entering your computer. After the network certification key is installed and several passwords are inputted, students are free within the ecosystem.

Hypothetically, if the Syracuse University administration decided to restrict students’ access to social media, specific news agencies or other free press entities, a group of self-proclaimed freedom fighters of the Web may come to the students’ defense.

This gesture far from mirrors the justice served by Walker Texas Ranger. Anonymous is a global collection of hackers trying to prevent censorship and surveillance worldwide. The group operates via self-agreed-upon missions in which thousands of hackers seek to corrupt companies and governments to disrupt their operations.

Anonymous took aim last week on the Israeli Defense Forces after rumors were swirling that the government was threatening to cut Internet access from citizens of Gaza. In Israel’s one-week conflict with Gaza, there were a reported 44 million cyber attacks on government websites across the country. The hacker organization deleted corporate Web databases and poured Israeli citizens’ usernames and passwords onto the free Web.

The #OpIsrael Twitter campaign by Anonymous sought to achieve two technical goals. One mission was to “email bomb” governmental websites by overloading website servers until they crash. The second mission was to run “script kiddies,” small programs designed to look for and exploit security holes in websites. While some of these attacks strained Israeli security systems, no substantive infrastructure was compromised.

The Israeli government found that many of Anonymous’ planned attacks originated from the United States and Western Europe. Since Anonymous is a collection of thousands of global volunteers, it’s challenging for substantive legal action to be taken.

Anonymous statements regarding the Israel and Gaza conflict show the organization doesn’t side with any political party, but supports the people of Palestine. The organization often chooses to weigh in on high-profile news stories or conflicts because they often garner considerable attention.

By creating the “Anonymous Gaza Care Package,” the hackers allowed English- and Arabic-speaking Palestinians to circumvent Israeli Internet surveillance protocol. This care package also detailed how decrypting private Wi-Fi networks could benefit the public’s access to free, uninterrupted Internet.

Anonymous’ viscous attacks were rooted solely in their pursuit of guaranteeing Gaza’s citizens Internet access. Regardless of Israel’s actual actions, it’s crucial to realize that enemies of nations are no longer defined by a physical location, religious affiliation or ethnicity, but rather are bathed under a cloak of impenetrable anonymity.

While Anonymous is often viewed as a terror organization, it’s important to keep in mind its fervent lobbying of laws, like Stop Online Privacy Act (SOPA), because of their potential restriction of content ownership and piracy. Last year, many students shared a similar viewpoint and signed online petitions against the proposed SOPA bill.

The pompous tone and hacking missions of Anonymous affirmed it as a modern terrorism organization. Mostly, the organization sides against public perception and takes a firm radical view on an issue. Even with Anonymous’ malicious missions, its guiding principle since 2003 has been to ensure the availability of an uncensored, free Internet for all.

Going forward, if Anonymous becomes a leading force regarding equality of Internet access, its recent statement against Israel is a beneficial stance.

Jared Rosen is a sophomore advertising and marketing management major. His column appears weekly. He can be contacted at or followed on Twitter at @jaredmarc14.


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