Epic Win For Anonymous - How 4chan's Army Conquered the Web

Written by Cole Stryker
Overlook Press, £14.99

Reviewed by Tracey Dunn

Cole Stryker is a blogger (stryker.tumblr.com) and web culture critic living in New York and has written this fascinating, easy to read book documenting the detailed history of Anonymous.

Everyone is familiar with the Guy Fawkes masks from V for Vendetta (2006) where the mask-wearing character is an anonymous figure inciting a 'massive anarchic rebellion'. It is no surprise it is being worn by Occupiers and Anonymous members, but not many people know about the origins of Anonymous. How it arose from the little known 4chan website set up by a 15 year old kid from the Netherlands called Christopher Poole. 4chan was in the news in August 2010 after CCTV footage of an English woman dumping a cat in a wheelie bin went viral. 4chan hunted down the woman and the rest is history. 4chan was also the origins for 'anti security' groups like LulzSec and AntiSec who hacked into websites of those who were seen to be oppressing the people.

Anonymous are also famous for supporting WikiLeaks, the group including Julian Assange who leak secret files from the US Government and more. The most well known being footage from Iraq leaked by US soldier Bradley Manning where civilians on the ground are seen to be killed when shot down by aircraft. When Mastercard and Paypal refused to accept payments for WikiLeaks they were hacked and closed down by Anonymous.

Cole Stryker informs us how 4chan has a messageboard called /b/ or Random. It's a lawless place online where there are no rules.
Its followers are called /b/tards and they are up for mischief, the lulz (laughs) and some very serious political actions.

Rule 1: You do not talk about /b/.
Rule 2:You DO NOT talk about /b/.

The first person Anonymous went for was the US comedian Tom Green. He had a TV show where he did prank calls and his show was spammed for the 'lulz' with 4chan 'memes'... 'the troller becomes the trolled'. This was called a 4chan Metagame. Stryker informs us what memes are - Viral human-to-human interactions that spread like cells over the Internet and are called the 'meme pool'. Some of these memes go worldwide like the 'cat in the wheelie bin lady' and are mainly spread through social networks.

The book tells us how the white supremacist Hal Turner had his website taken down and his show flooded with prank calls. He tried to retaliate by posting his prank callers phone numbers but has been continually pranked by Anonymous and subsequently lost a legal challenge (lolsuit) against them.

Stryker tells us the complete story about Anonymous' attacks on the Church of Scientology (Project Chanology). Someone exposed the Church's hypocrisy and deceptions and their secret documents were leaked. Scientology spammed Anonymous' news groups and set up dummy web pages so any criticisms of them would be hard to find. Tom Cruise brought the lulz with his manic fanaticism for Scientology that spurred on Anonymous' games. They started sending black faxes dripping wet with wasted printers ink. There were also DDoS (Distributed Denial of Services) attacks against Scientology; websites were overloaded with devastating consequences. The software used to do this is called LOIC (Low Orbit Ion Cannon) named after a fictional weapon in a PC real time strategy game. You just click a button, aim the cannon at the intended website and the software does the rest flooding targets with 'garbage requests'. The attackers are almost impossible to find.

The first Anonymous video, Stryker says, was created by 'cOs' (Gregg Housh) on January 21st 2008 and called Message to Scientology:

"You have nowhere to hide because we are everywhere. Knowledge is free. We are anonymous. We are legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us"

This was released into Anonops, an anonymous IRC channel devoted to Anonymous' operations. 'cOs' got doxed, meaning his personal information was released online by Anonymous because he went on the radio and TV, something that was frowned upon by the 'group'. Anonymous first went 'physical' wearing the V for Vendetta masks when a few hundred people in English speaking cities began participating in protests against Scientology Head Quarters in February 2008.

Cole Stryker writes about Operation Sony, when Sony Corporation was attacked by an unknown entity in April 2011 and 77 million customer accounts were hacked and released. Geohot (George Hotz) was accused by Sony of violating the Digital Millennium Copyright Act when he was accused of 'jailbreaking' a PS3 console to go beyond it's placed limitations. Sony's PSN network was brought down for over three weeks. Lulz Security also took responsibility for the Sony attack, though it could have also been Eastern European Mafia. There is really no way of knowing who carried out this cyber attack. Anonymous' online operations take place after discussions in 4chan chatrooms and IRC channels are set up as the main place for online operations after incidents like the 'English Cat Woman'. One of the early Anonymous members Anonymouse hopes for 'A stateless world where large organisations behave because they have no choice... true meritocracy'

In a Middle East Operation, the Tunisian authorities had 8 websites brought down including the President’s, the Prime Minister’s and the Stock Exchange. Cole Stryker suggests this was because the Tunisian authorities were 'phishing', that is tricking people into revealing their passwords in order to remove criticism from networking sites and targeting journalists. In Egypt, Anonymous 'mirrored' (put on other sites) websites that the Government censored. They also shut down President Mubarak's website and sent the embassies lots of Pizza deliveries!

In acts of social justice Anonymous have attacked the Westboro Baptist Church in the US for their homophobia by closing their website and brought down Government websites in Florida after people got arrested for feeding homeless people in Orlando. The Monsanto Corporation who genetically modifies food amongst other things also had details of their 2,500 employees posted due to their disregard of the environment.

I personally got ‘rickrolled’ by Anonymous when I tried to access a link online. I got the Rick Astley video of Never gonna give you up moving across my screen every time I tried to delete it whilst the lyrics teased me. I am proud to say I battled it and removed it myself... even though it took a few hours.

For those wishing to learn more about Anonymous' history read this fascinating book and also check out mavericks like CabinCr3w, th3 j35t3r (the jester), Team Poison, Sabu and Topiary and groups like LulzSec and AntiSec.

And remember, remember one anon's justice is another's lulz!

Printer friendly page

Sorry Comments Closed