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In a response to a recent NATO security report regarding ‘Anonymous‘, the mysterious online ‘organisation’ (I use the term loosely) has posted a lengthy public response cautioning NATO that “This is no longer your world”. [The full response will be posted at the end of this article, for the website that it was posted on is currently experiencing server issues]
The underground group – responsible for the attacks on MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Amazon and, allegedly, Sony – posted the public message as a response to NATO’s report, issued last month, which warned about the rise in politically-motivated cyberattacks and singled out Anonymous as the most well-known and sophisticated of the so-called ‘hacktavist’ groups.
The NATO report stated that: “Today, the ad hoc international group of hackers and activists is said to have thousands of operatives and has no set rules or membership. It remains to be seen how much time Anonymous has for pursuing such paths. The longer these attacks persist the more likely countermeasures will be developed, implemented, the groups will be infiltrated and perpetrators persecuted,” the report read, also asking, “Can one invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty after a cyber attack? And what response mechanisms should the Alliance employ against the attacker? Should the retaliation be limited to cyber means only, or should conventional military strikes also be considered?”
Recently, the UK and US have suggested that they consider such cyber-attacks as actual acts of warfare. The Washington Post reported that “The Pentagon has concluded that computer sabotage coming from another country can constitute an act of war, a finding that for the first time opens the door for the U.S. to respond using traditional military force.”
“If you shut down our power grid, maybe we will put a missile down one of your smokestacks,” said a military official.
Meanwhile, the Guardian reported that “The UK is developing a cyber-weapons programme that will give ministers an attacking capability to help counter growing threats to national security.”
“The armed forces minister, Nick Harvey, told the Guardian that “action in cyberspace will form part of the future battlefield”, and though he said cyber-weapons would not replace traditional weapons, he admitted he now regards them as “an integral part of the country’s armoury”. It is the first official acknowledgment that such a programme exists.”
Anonymous’ response to NATO began by stating: “you have singled out Anonymous as a threat to “government and the people”. You have also alleged that secrecy is a ‘necessary evil’ and that transparency is npt [sic] always the right way forward.”
The public statement laid out clearly that Anonymous and Wikileaks are “distinct entities”, describing how they were not working together but that they do share a common attribute: “They are no threat to any organization – unless that organization is doing something wrong and attempting to get away with it.”
Anonymous continued by seemingly berating NATO for acting as if the organisation were some kind of cyber-terrorist organisation, or were somehow acting for their own agenda and not for the good of the masses: “We do not wish to threaten anybody’s way of life. We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody. We do not wish to terrorize any nation.
“We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people – who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place,” the statement continued.
Anonymous also state: “You know you do not fear us because we are a threat to society. You fear us because we are a threat to the established hierarchy. “
The statement concludes with the warning: “Do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous. Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake. If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place. If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent.
“Your only chance of defeating the movement which binds all of us is to accept it. This is no longer your world. It is our world – the people’s world.”
I shall post the full response below. It is well worth a read, and it will be interesting to see whether NATO responds with a statement in return, or whether they ignore it. Time will tell, but it is clear that we are entering an age where, truly, “action in cyberspace will form part of the future battlefield” – for good or for evil.
The public statement:
Greetings, members of NATO. We are Anonymous.
In a recent publication, you have singled out Anonymous as a threat to “government and the people”. You have also alleged that secrecy is a ‘necessary evil’ and that transparency is npt always the right way forward.
Anonymous would like to remind you that the government and the people are, contrary to the supposed foundations of “democracy”, distinct entities with often conflicting goals and desires. It is Anonymous‘ position that when there is a conflict of interest between the government and the people, it is the people’s will which must take priority. The only threat transparency poses to government is to threaten government’s ability to act in a manner which the people would disagree with, without having to face democratic consequences and accountability for such behaviour. Your own report cites a perfect example of this, the Anonymous attack on HBGary. Whether HBGary were acting in the cause of security or military gain is irrelevant – their actions were illegal and morally reprehensible. Anonymous does not accept that the government and/or the military has the right to be above the law and to use the phoney cliche of “national security” to justify illegal and deceptive activities. If the government must break the rules, they must also be willing to accept the democratic consequences of this at the ballot box.We do not accept the current status quo whereby a government can tell one story to the people and another in private. Dishonesty and secrecy totally undermine the concept of self rule. How can the people judge for whom to vote unless they are fully aware of what policies said politicians are actually pursuing?
When a government is elected, it is said to “represent” the nation it governs. This essentially means that the actions of a government are not the actions of the people in government, but are actions taken on behalf of every citizen in that country. It is unacceptable to have a situation in which the people are, in many cases, totally and utterly unaware of what is being said and done on their behalf – behind closed doors.
Anonymous and WikiLeaks are distinct entities. The actions of Anonymous were not aided or even requested by WikiLeaks. However, Anonymous and WikiLeaks do share one common attribute: They are no threat to any organization – unless that organization is doing something wrong and attempting to get away with it.
We do not wish to threaten anybody’s way of life. We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody. We do not wish to terrorize any nation.
We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people – who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place.
The government makes the law. This does not give them the right to break it. If the government was doing nothing underhand or illegal, there would be nothing “embarassing” about Wikileaks revelations, nor would there have been any scandal emanating from HBGary. The resulting scandals were not a result of Anonymous‘ or Wikileaks’ revelations, they were the result of the CONTENT of those revelations. And responsibility for that content can be laid solely at the doorstep of policymakers who, like any corrupt entity, naively believed that they were above the law and that they would not be caught.
A lot of government and corporate comment has been dedicated to “how we can avoid a similar leak in the future”. Such advice ranges from better security, to lower levels of clearance, from harsher penalties for whistleblowers, to censorship of the press.
Our message is simple: Do not lie to the people and you won’t have to worry about your lies being exposed. Do not make corrupt deals and you won’t have to worry about your corruption being laid bare. Do not break the rules and you won’t have to worry about getting in trouble for it.
Do not attempt to repair your two faces by concealing one of them. Instead, try having only one face – an honest, open and democratic one.
You know you do not fear us because we are a threat to society. You fear us because we are a threat to the established hierarchy. Anonymous has proven over the last several years that a hierarchy is not necessary in order to achieve great progress – perhaps what you truly fear in us, is the realization of your own irrelevance in an age which has outgrown its reliance on you. Your true terror is not in a collective of activists, but in the fact that you and everything you stand for have, by the changing tides and the advancement of technology, are now surplus to requirements.
Finally, do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous. Do not make the mistake of believing you can behead a headless snake. If you slice off one head of Hydra, ten more heads will grow in its place. If you cut down one Anon, ten more will join us purely out of anger at your trampling of dissent.
Your only chance of defeating the movement which binds all of us is to accept it. This is no longer your world. It is our world – the people’s world.
We are Anonymous.
We are legion.
We do not forgive.
We do not forget.