Responding to a recent report from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization condemning Anonymous, the online “hacktivist” group has issued a public response warning the global organization not to challenge it.
Claiming that the NATO report singled it out as a threat to “government and the people,” Anonymous defended some of its recent actions in the name of freedom and dissent. In its message (Google cached version), it also asserted that NATO fears the group not because it’s a “threat to society,” but because it’s a “threat to the established hierarchy.”
Issued last month by Lord Joplin, general rapporteur of NATO, the report warned member nations about the rising threat of “hacktivism,” or carrying out cyberattacks for political purposes. Singling out Anonymous, NATO described several of the group’s most recent actions, including the distributed denial-of-service attacks against MasterCard, Visa, PayPal, Amazon, and others that had cut off services for WikiLeaks.
Noting that Anonymous has become more sophisticated, the NATO report cautioned that it could hack into sensitive government, military, and corporate information and described a strong response against the group.
“Today, the ad hoc international group of hackers and activists is said to have thousands of operatives and has no set rules or membership,” said the report. “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.”
In its response, Anonymous tried to soften its stance in parts by saying that it doesn’t want to threaten anyone’s way of life or terrorize any nation. But it made clear its reaction to NATO’s report.
“Finally, do not make the mistake of challenging Anonymous,” warned Anonymous in its message. “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.”
NATO’s report also provided a larger look into the growing danger of cyberattacks and how governments should respond to them. In the report, Joplin asked the question of how NATO should react if one of its member nations was the victim of a cyberattack.
“Can one invoke Article 5 of the Washington Treaty after a cyber attack?” asked the report. “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?
Both the U.S. and the U.K. have recently made their own positions clear–that they consider cyberwarfare another form of warfare, and one potentially subject to a response using conventional military weapons.
Official statment from Anonymous:
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 not 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 phony cliché 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 “embarrassing” 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.