Anonymous, Syrian Electronic Army Lead Recent Hacktivist Actions

As a supplement to the latest McAfee Labs Threats Report, published this week, we offer this timeline of leading hacktivist activities that made news in the fourth quarter of 2013.

2013-Q4 Hacktivism Timeline graph


  • October 3: Thirteen alleged members of the hacktivist collective Anonymous are indicted for cyberattacks between September 2010 and January 2011 on targets including the Motion Picture Association of America, Recording Industry Association of America, Visa, Mastercard, and Bank of America.[1] They are charged with organizing denial-of-service attacks aimed at the websites of the targets as part of “Operation Payback.”
  • October 18: The Syrian Electronic Army, which supports President Bashar al-Assad, redirects many high-profile websites in Qatar managed by the Ministry of Information and Communication (ictQatar).[2] The SEA modifies DNS entries to redirect targeted websites—including Google, Facebook, Al Jazeera, and government military pages—to SEA servers displaying a picture of Assad with the group’s logo.
  • October 26: The SEA alters some Twitter and Facebook accounts used by President Barack Obama during his election campaigns.[3] The group redirects the tweeted and posted links to a pro-Syrian propaganda video.
  • November 5: Hacker group Anonymous calls for supporters to take part in demonstrations to protest against corporations and corruption in government. Rallies were held in more than 450 locations around the world.[4] Coordinated via Facebook and YouTube, the global “Million Mask March” makes many claims.
  • November 8: The SEA hacks The group deletes an article written in August in which the news site claims to have exposed the hacking collective.[5]
  • November: “Anonymous Indonesia” claims to have hacked more than 170 Australian businesses, education websites, and charities, in response to a report that Australia used its embassy in Jakarta to conduct spying efforts spearheaded by the United States.[6] Meanwhile, Anonymous Australia, which started #OpAustralia against the Australian government over Internet filters, releases a video asking the Indonesian hackers to stop attacking innocent websites.[7]
  • December 1: Anonymous protests Japanese whale and dolphin hunting (#OpKillingBay and #ShutTaijiDown). The group calls for attacks on Japanese websites, including those of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries, as well as a day of action in the whaling town of Taiji, which was described in the Oscar-winning documentary “The Cove.”[8]
  • December: Some Ukrainian hacktivists (#OpIndependence) support the government’s decision to remain free of the European Union while others protest this move.[9] The former assert they have leaked private emails of some members of the Ukrainian Parliament[10] but the latter deny the claim.[11] By midmonth, the majority of hacktivists appears to be against the Ukrainian government and says they’ve joined with FEMEN, the exhibitionist feminist protest group, in an effort to support the protesters.[12]



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