Across the street from the café I frequent, a new bar is opening up: Anonymous, they call it – a place where you can be whoever you want to be, and then let the temporary identity you assumed be swept away with the broken glass of an unnamed drink you dropped. Entering a new place unnoticed carries with it many benefits, not the least of which is causing trouble and walking away from it unscathed. More often than not though, the plan isn’t to literally start a war.
But a war is exactly what the latest Anonymous actions seem to be pointing to. The group of hackers that became famous by combining digital activism with a stealthy push for revenge (conveniently named “Anonymous”) has chosen its newest target: North Korea.
And while slactivism may indeed not translate into concrete real world action, the hacktivism of Anonymous might render a different conclusion. Their compromising of several thousand North Korean online accounts, as well as the breeching of a central news agency and other state-run Twitter and Flickr pages, comes with a demand: North Korea must retract its threat of nuclear attack, and increase freedoms (namely internet access) to its citizens.
Meanwhile, the “beloved” Kim Jongun remains defaced with a pig snout and Mickey Mouse tattoo on government run websites – the picture labeled “Nuke Nuke Mickey Lover” and replacing the usual shots of obedient generals and military rallies.
The cyber attack leaves a secretive and brittle country exposed, vulnerable to future abuse and confused as to how to retaliate. Anonymous claims to be fighting on behalf of freedom rather than the North Korean suspected South Korea or US. However, the repetition of “we the people” in the Anonymous messages (“we the people won’t fight your wars anymore,” “we the people are united as one, divided by zero, and can never be defeated”) leaves more evidence to be desired.
If Kim Jongun should decide the attacks are enemy-country-originated, fear could be instilled in more than one country’s citizens. Wars have begun by accident or miscalculation before – a kind of unprecedented social impact no internet media expert could have predicted.
Even with Anonymous delving into unchartered territory of North Korean reactions, there might be hope on the horizon. The hacking collective maintains that they should not be feared: “We are not terrorist, we are the good guys from the internet.” They continue: “Our goals are freedom and peace and democracy.”
Theoretically, reading these claims should calm our imaginative minds (especially since everything on the internet should obviously be trusted), but Anonymous as a group has nothing to worry about: they won’t be the target of retaliation – walk away from everything unscathed, remember?
They did, however, end their declaration with the now-familiar signature: “We do not forgive, we do not forget, expect us!” Though expecting the unexpected seems to be the implication, perhaps it is exactly this anonymity of the internet that they should be thanking. In today’s digital age, anything may indeed be possible online.
For more information on Anonymous and their most recent cyber attack, please follow the links below: