by Alissa Skelton 3
Hacktivism has hit its tipping point. The year 2011 had the most hacktivism-related crimes in history.
Hacktivists use digital tools to breach security systems to protest or take a stand on political issues. The New Age hacker is motivated by the pursuit of justice, and is often hard to stop.
On Tuesday, Shawn Henry, an FBI agent who will soon leave his post, told the Wall Street Journal that cyber criminals are too powerful for the government to stop. He also said the U.S.’s current methods for preventing hacks are “unsustainable.”
Hacktivism accounted for the majority of cybercrimes committed in the U.S. last year, according to the 2012 Verzion Data Breach Investigation [PDF]. The report said hacktivism represented 100 million of the 174 million cybercrimes in 2011.
SEE ALSO: The Evolution of Anonymous
Web criminals target Wall Street firms, too. Cybercrime accounted for 38% of all economic crime [PDF] at financial companies in 2011, reported London-based firm PricewaterhouseCoopers. In 2009, financial firms did not report a single case of cybercrime. The crimes were likely happening, but the cybercrime wasn’t a well-known issue at the time.
The first uptick in cybercrime came in the early 2000s. The Internet Crime Complaint Center logged 16,000 complaints in 2000. By 2008, the number of complaints had jumped to 275,000. Today, the majority — 66% — of hackivists live in the U.S.
The way hacktivists define themselves is important — they don’t want to be associated with cyber criminals who hack websites for financial gain. Hacktivists set out to make political statements by attacking targeted websites and breaching databases.
Three types of hacktivism exist: the white hat hacker, grey hat hacker and the black hat hacker. White hat hackers use non-malicious methods to break security systems. Grey hat hackers hold ambiguous codes of ethics, and are willing to break hacking laws. Black hat hackers are the show-offs; they will breach security mainly because they know how.Check out the following infographic, created by Frugal Dad, to learn how hacktivism became a powerful virtual weapon.