Hacktivism is a term that combines the terms “hacker” and “activism” and generally means the use of technical tools, including denial of service attacks, virtual sit-ins, web page defacement or redirects, to showcase a political, social, ideological or religious message through illegal or legally-ambiguous methods. Hacktivists generally value humor, non-violent action and their own anonymity. Hactivism can take many forms such as defacing web pages and email bombing. Web sit-ins use a denial-of-service attack version that overloads a site with too much traffic, rendering it unusable. Hacktivism is also known as cyberterrorism by those who oppose the hacker’s ideologies. Generally, hacktivists use techniques that disrupt the target’s website but don’t cause serious damage. Critics of hacktavism contend that, though the hackers may feel a sense of empowerment through shutting down their target’s website, they most likely succeed in strengthening cyberdefense policies rather than changing government or corporate policies. One of the most famous hacktavist groups is Anonymous, which has attacked the Church of Scientology and the Iranian government. Others include Hong Kong Blondes, Cult of the Dead Cow and the Jester. Wikileaks and Julian Assange could also be considered hacktavists as their release of large amounts of classified documents is directly in line with the hacktavist philosophy and is supported by that community.
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