The largely failed cyber attacks on November 5th (Guy Fawkes Day) which were claimed by hacker activist group, Anonymous, were nothing more than a sign of what’s to come in the future of global security and sustainability.
It is nothing new to say that we are currently undergoing a Revolution in Military Affairs, as rapid advancements in technology and military strategy are changing the face of modern warfare.
However, the continuous threat and execution of hacks and other cyber attacks by terrorist groups is becoming a new problem for security and intelligence officials.
“Hacktivist” group, Anonymous, was openly planning for months the cyber attacks which were made on Guy Fawkes Day, in retaliation to the perceived injustices and corruption made at government and corporate levels.
Anonymous is famous – or notorious, depending on how you look at the group – for using masks of Guy Fawkes in their video messages (all thanks to V For Vendetta), even though Fawkes was a Catholic Absolutist who hated the idea of England being separated from the Vatican, a completely different image to what the anarchist, anti-establishment figure he’s portrayed as today.
It aimed to hit, among other things, sites such as Facebook, PayPal and Zynga.
The attacks largely fizzled, limited just to site defacements, notably of some NBC sites and a Lady Gaga fan-site.
In Australia, hackers defaced the Government’s webpage, as well as Ascension Australia (a hippie festival in Melbourne), web development company, Semcorp, and NGO, the Quality Lifestyle Alliance.
However, the ability to proliferate awareness of perceived injustices and rally support for causes internationally has become a valuable asset for cyber-activists with seditious messages, like Anonymous.
It may only be a matter of time before terrorist organisations such as Al Qaeda accrue a significant internet presence and turn their attentions to the digital world.
An effective terrorist attack on the internet could be significantly devastating, due to the now global pervasiveness in everyone’s lives of the digital medium.
However, the Anonymous protests also highlight another distressing portent about technology’s impact on society: the development of improved and invasive government surveillance systems.
Surveillance technology is now being developed to use face recognition, something which could prove very beneficial for catching criminals, but equally as problematic in terms of our privacy and civil liberties.
So while improvements in technology may provide a new platform for terrorism, they are also providing more opportunities to monitor – and, if put in the wrong hands, even control or repress – the masses.
George Orwell eat your heart out.
As technology improves, and as we increasingly turn away from the real world, towards the digital universe, the world will come across new problems and quandaries.
This whole theme is even explored in the upcoming James Bond movie, Skyfall – another example of how contemporary security issues are reflected in the 007 franchise.