Anonymous #OpUSA goes without a bang

22:15 08 May in Cyber security

The Anonymous collective of online mischief makers pledged to launch a series of disruptive attacks against American companies and government on May 7. Whilst Anonymous have had some high profile successes in the past, Tuesday passed largely without note.

Anonymous is a loose collective, which grows and shrinks depending on the cause de jour. As a activist group it has been most effective when it had a clear cause, and a specific focus. Whilst the group usually resorts to denial of service attacks, achieved through a mixture of sheer numbers, and on occasion botnets (a network of compromised computers) it has also pulled off some notable compromises (this article has some more details).

#OpUSA was aimed at a wide range of organisation, and beyond being a rebuke to the US for a variety of perceived sins, lacked coherent focus. Without those elements it didn’t attract sufficient numbers to have much impact, and fizzled out.

Anonymous attract a lot of press coverage, and cause a lot of worry. The failure of #OpUSA shows that sometimes online threats should not be taken too seriously. However the sorts of technique Anonymous use are widely available, and used by a range of online bad guys. Testing responses, and considering worst case scenarios make an important part of cyber security readiness. Anonymous provide a range of good case studies, demonstrating what relatively poorly resourced (compared to say a nation state) actors can achieve. Companies can use this to ensure the worst case is never quite so bad for them.