Too lazy to picket outside a business or march with signs down a street? Now you don’t have to leave your house to support a cause.
Hacktivism – hacking a computer or server for a politically or socially motivated purpose – is growing in popularity.
Recently, you’re mom or dad might have asked you if you use Snapchat, and you might have been surprised they knew anything about it. Well, they now know about Snapchat because it made the news in a big way.
At the beginning of the new year, millions of Snapchat users’ accounts were compromised when hackers posted usernames and phone numbers on the internet. Interestingly enough, the final two digits weren’t posted, making the phone numbers useless.
So why go to all of this trouble?
The hackers said in a statement released to the press, “Our motivation behind the release was to raise the public awareness around the issue, and also put public pressure on Snapchat to get this exploit fixed.”
They wanted Snapchat to increase its security to protect its users. And Snapchat did. It recently put into place new security measures.
Sounds pretty noble of the hackers.
But hacking is illegal and morally suspect, so does what the good hacktivists do outweigh how they’re doing it? Should society support hacktivism?
If hackers are willing to accept the consequences of their illegal actions then what they do is commendable, even respectable.
Civil disobedience has historically been a popular and effective way to inspire change for the better, and countless people have willingly suffered repercussions for their actions.
Martin Luther King Jr. embodied this type of civil disobedience. He broke unjust, prejudiced laws and was thrown in prison because of his passionate devotion to overcome what he saw was evil. He didn’t try to evade the police. He didn’t whine and complain. He took the punishment.
Hactivist Jeremy Hammond was sentenced a maximum prison sentence of 10 years after hacking a security firm. After a 38-year-old truck driver was found guilty of participating in a one minute hacking attack on Koch Industries, he was given two years of federal probation and had to pay $183,000.
That’s a pretty steep punishment.
So, hactivists, are you willing to stand up for what you think is right but still remain standing after consequences?
Maybe the hackers phishing for information from ACU staff, faculty and students are really just hacktivists trying to teach us lessons in Internet conduct.