Senior security researchers at Intel-owned security vendor McAfee have dubbed 2013 the year the Anonymous hacking collective will face stagnation and decline.
Anonymous, a ‘loosely connected’ hacktivist movement that sprung up from 4Chan in 2003, has for a decade directed cyber-attacks at targets as varied as News Corp, The US, UK and Australian Governments, suspected pedophilia rings, the Church of Scientology and various rights holder groups such as record and film companies.
Such was Anonymous’ momentum and impact that Time Magazine named the collective the ‘Person of the Year’ in 2012.
But McAfee analysts, releasing their 2013 predictions, have gauged that Anonymous’ techniques are now well understood and predicted its influence will decline.
“Sympathisers of Anonymous are suffering,” the analysts wrote. “Too many uncoordinated and unclear operations have been detrimental to its reputation.”
“Anonymous’ level of technical sophistication has stagnated,” McAfee said, referring to the group's reliance on Distributed Denial of Service attacks, “and its tactics are better understood by its potential victims.”
The analysts said Anonymous may draw new support from alliances with anti-globalisation groups such as splinters of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
The future for hacktivism, the analysts said, is in the hands of individuals and groups prepared to be named when hacking for a cause they feel are just. McAfee analyst Francois Paget has argued for over 12 months that this strategy will prevail so long as Anonymous hackers are willing to out each other.
A larger concern, the analysts said, is the growing numbers and sophistication of groups of “patriot” hackers attacking institutions that do not subscribe to their political world view – not to mention the sanctioned cyber-armies of nation states.
Among McAfee’s other predictions:
- Rapid development of ways to attack Windows 8 and HTML5.
- The rise of mobile worms that buy malicious apps and steal via tap-and-pay NFC.
- Large-scale attacks like Stuxnet that attempt to destroy infrastructure.
- SMS spam from infected phones.
- “Hacking as a Service” and the rise of mobile phone ransomware “kits”.
- Nation states and armies will be more frequent sources and victims of cyberthreats.