So national news sites and newspapers this week are making a big deal about the Anonymous OS. First due to its existence, then due to it being full of trojans, next the retaliation to the aforementioned claim. As a computer science student though, I question whether this OS needs so much attention, regardless of its content.
5 years ago, anonymous was a very different beast to what we see it as now. Back then, they were the un-named hive mind, with somewhat questionable consciousness finding out where internet sensations like Boxxy lived or supporting their favoured sites like the pirate bay. They stalked the pages of 4Chan, attempted the odd DDoS attack and generally being nothing more than the “legion” that spread across the board.
But things changed. It started with Scientology, a backlash against the censorship imposed by the church after a video including Tom Cruise was slipped on to the internet. Suddenly anonymous was not just a few hacktivists, it was actual people signified by their V masks, standing outside churches, and a machine that was taking down a major cooperation’s website. Next folllowed the Iranian elections in 2009, Mastercard and Visa in 2010 and then a huge number in 2011:The Tunisian and Egyptian goverments, and then the repository of attacks by LulzSec. Evidentially, this is no longer a team of riled up teenagers with someone they don’t like on myspace, it is a force nearing the power of a small country that will not be easy to deal with.
So this leads clearly to the hyperbole of the Anon-OS. Here we have a force that can access some of the most powerful companies in the world, and even govermental computing system, basically releasing a skinned version of Ubuntu. My knowledge of hacking is restricted, both in the white hat and black hat fields, but with no difficultly at all I can download a few programs and a picture of a Guy Fawkes mask on to a computer. Surely anyone hacking will have skills in most fields of computing that will greatly exceed mine and doesn’t need these metaphorical water wings to keep them afloat? Perhaps Anonymous wants support from everyone, regardless of their computing skills, but from this two problems occur. One, the “low orbit ion cannon” software is not easy to use. If they wanted people to be using it, they’d simply the software first before packaging it all in to a pretty OS. Secondly, why would it be filled with trojans? Sure they want people’s paypal so they can fund their activities and all that stuff, but it fails to suit the whole mentality of what this OS would be used for. Especially given that many of the downloads will be from 15 year old kids messing about and rebelling.
This concludes then. Anon’ may not forgive. And they may not forget. And I entirely agree that they’re legion. But something they aren’t is press worthy for a possibly virus filled OS skin.