Web Culture

LulzSec & Anonymous – Online Heroes Or Dangerous, Reckless Hackers?

Craig Snyder 07-11-2011

anonymous hackersBy now, you’re probably aware of the mayhem Sony Pictures Online Hacked Using "Primitive and Common" Vulnerability, Data Unencrypted [News] On Thursday evening, hacker group "LulzSec" announced via Twitter that they had gained access to SonyPictures.com and stolen over 1 million accounts, passwords and sensitive user information. Shortly after the news broke, copies of the... Read More and mischief Hacker Group Anonymous Attacks myBart.org Site [News] Read More that both LulzSec and Anonymous have claimed responsibility for. If not, I’m here to educate you. Both seem to have a feared and revered reputation as defiant hacktivists that accept no compromise. Although these two groups seem as close as cousins by nature, both have their distinct differences that we’ll venture into briefly.


One question still seems up in the air and at a divide in the public: Are these the good guys or the bad guys? The media often portrays them as vigilante villains and the internet seems to embrace them as defenders of freedom and transparency. While the answer to that question is difficult and often dodgy, I’m going to address the situation without bias. Afterwards, I want your opinion in the comments.


Famously sporting the Guy Fawkes mask and appearing at sensationalized protest after protest, it’s strange to fathom that a group with such a name is is so popular in today’s world.

Anonymous became relevant in 2003, birthed by the majority default of Futaba-based imageboards. These imageboards (and one, especially, that you all know I am talking about) are often shunned into deep web as sewers of the internet. Seen as cesspools filled with questionable images and other content, trivial inside jokes (“memes”), and internet trolls and bullies extraordinaire, it’s really no wonder why mainstream internet tries to tuck them away.

The most obvious snag with the Anonymous hacker group is the fact that there is no leader or figurehead. Anonymity comes with its disadvantages, and this is definitely one of them. As a whole, the group seems very unorganized and out there. Official membership is achieved by simply concealing your identity as you carry out your activities online. The entire group seems like an umbrella over several smaller factions. LulzSec itself is often described as a sort of subsidiary of Anonymous. Anonymous has often been often cited as a major contributing pool to WikiLeaks.

anonymous hackers


As Anonymous matured (and I say that carefully), the impact of their hacks and pranks began to magnify. Early in formation, you could find the group participating in:

I can’t point out any true acts of heroism there. Hal Turner isn’t an angel, but none of this is progressive. As time passed, Anonymous grew. Their activities have completely changed:

  • Attack on HBGary Federal, a security company dedicated to the US government
  • Operation Sony, where Sony’s PlayStation Network suffered a breach and ridiculous amounts of downtime
  • Operation Anti-Security, a collaboration with LulzSec dedicated to (maliciously) breaching government websites and security

lulzsec anonymous

Things have started to become pretty serious. There are large-scale hacks. After specifically searching for operations that show any glint of positivity, I’ve come across one:

  • Operation Darknet, where websites harboring child pornography were attacked and personal information of those frequenting and contributing to the websites were posted

This is huge and it is even commendable. There are other ways to go about the situation, but I can’t find a real reason to argue with the outcome. This needed to happen, one way or another.

lulzsec anonymousSeveral plots and attacks have been shrugged off by the majority as unofficial. Operation Facebook, where the Anonymous hackers vowed to take down Facebook, was disbanded. Anonymous’ threat to the NYSE during the recent Occupy Wall Street protests was said to be drafted by outsiders with no pull inside of the group. The attack, which ended up being merely a DDoS attempt on the NYSE website (not the exchange itself), managed to create a hiccup for all of two minutes. Fail, as they say.

The verdict: At best, Anonymous is a group of troublesome trolls and hackers who seem to scapegoat current events and search for an excuse to cause problems. They’re in it for attention and this is not a good group of people overall. Sometimes the chips fall in their favor, but they are not heroes.


When compared to Anonymous, LulzSec was more straightforward. They were also more organized, having only six official members. They seem to have had no issue at all in revealing that their intentions weren’t completely kosher. The group’s motto was “Laughing at your security since 2011!” and they were an organization that did it all “for the lulz.” (It means it was done for their personal entertainment.)


lulzsec anonymous

LulzSec seems to have been a one-off deal and they have since halted all operations. To commemorate the disbandment and “achievements” of the group, LulzSec released the “50 Days of Lulz” on June 26th, 2011. The name plays on the fact that the group was in full and operational swing for exactly 50 days. The release included confidential accounts and passwords across various websites.

Preceding this final release, hacks included:

More small releases took place on the group’s official Twitter, mostly consisting of Pastebin or MediaFire account dumps.


anonymous hackers
Just like Anonymous, LulzSec is no stranger to trying to play protector  (as they did with Sega).

The verdict: LulzSec was a brief run, but that comes with no amnesty. Fortunately, this group seemed not to be concerned with views of the public and media. I don’t think a single member of LulzSec would wholeheartedly argue that the effect of their mischief was anything other than profoundly negative. Problem is, they seem not to care very much.

So, let us hear your opinion after this exposé’. Heroes or villains? This should be an easy one.

Image Credit: DigitalTrends.com

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  1. Anonymous
    November 3, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    hy i'M UR VERY BIG FAN

  2. Hemoseternal
    December 15, 2011 at 5:51 am

    The down-trodden will rise and a new world will emerge. With our heads held high we march into the oncoming dawn. A Mask of Valor is what we seek. Our world made whole and for the better. We of the shadowed world will make the peoples dreams come true Anonymous shall forever have my support.

  3. Jimmydwang
    December 13, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Everyone on the internet is a troll, anyone who denies trolling is full of donkey semen (speaking of which, I got to go download some German porn).  So who cares if one is or ain't because just look in the mirror and you find one.

    Anonymous and LulzSec are heroes, want to know why?  They show the power we all have.  The great thing about the internet is this, it gives the common man (there are no women on the internet men are men, women are men, and kids are the FBI) the ability to attack the system that controls us and determines our futures.

    Before we had to all get together and be gunned down by the thugs of the wealthy and powerful.  Now, we can hack the bank accounts, companies, and domains of the wealthy and powerful and destroy their wealth at our whim.  This is the next revolution, this medium will determine the future, these Anonymous trolls are the future (creepy ain't?).

    "For the time will soon come when trolls will shape the fortunes of all."

  4. Gho5t
    November 17, 2011 at 6:29 am

    -"With respect, Master Wayne, perhaps this is a man that you don't fully understand either. A long time ago, I was in Burma. My friends and I were working for the local government. They were trying to buy the loyalty of tribal leaders by bribing them with precious stones. But their caravans were being raided in a forest north of Rangoon by a bandit. So we went looking for the stones. But in six months, we never met anyone who had traded with him. One day I saw a child playing with a ruby the size of a tangerine. The bandit had been throwing them away."-"So why steal them?"-"Well, because he thought it was good sport. Because some men aren't looking for anything logical, like money. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."-"The bandit, did you catch him?"-"Yes."-"How?"-"We burned the forest down."

  5. Not_Anonymous...Yet
    November 9, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    The best think about anonymous is that they are not organized, and that they are anonymous!
    Anything that can be controlled WILL be controlled, and if they know who you are you will be pressed for what you believe in if you do not agree with the powers that be.

    EVERYBODY should join/be Anonymous!

    Regarding wikileaks... they were asking for it!
    Assange, like all the other powers that be, just wanted fame and power, he could have published if in freenet, bittorrent or any other p2p network, that way it could not be taken down, but then he would no have control!

  6. Anonymous
    November 8, 2011 at 9:04 am

    Who paid you to write this propaganda? You don't think taking on Visa and Mastercard for stealing donations and cutting of Wikileaks (you can still donate to the Aryan Nation through the two lovable companies, look it up), is a commendable cause? In fact, you don't even find, that their greatest operation yet - the operation that made them famous - is worth mentioning?

    "The verdict: At best, Anonymous is a group of troublesome trolls and hackers... They’re in it for attention"That sounds like a bit of a mouthful. The very point of the group is that it is very loosely organised, and yet you don't feel ashamed to pass judgement on every single "member" while concealing facts and presenting clearly biased estimates as other "facts".You sir, have failed, and you are awarded 0 internets!

    • Craig Snyder
      November 8, 2011 at 9:42 am

      Propoganda? Passing judgment? Bias?! Let me first remind you, this is definitely an opinion piece! I can promise you that I'm not concealing anything or being biased in any way, I'm looking at information readily available to me and expressing my opinion. My last interest is going out of my way to find a reason to go against a group that is often known for personally attacking those who choose to do so. Not that I'd be a very big fish in the pond, anyway.

      You've conveniently misquoted me though! Here it is again: "At best, Anonymous is a group of troublesome trolls and hackers who seem to scapegoat current events and search for an excuse to cause problems. They’re in it for attention and this is not a good group of people overall."
      I have a pretty moot opinion about the Visa/MasterCard incident, by reason of being unsure of the motive. You claim (and were probably told) it was in undying, loving support of WikiLeaks. But are you sure? Are you suuure? Are you sure it wasn't to flex that hacker muscle a little bit and take the spotlight for a few days? Consider it, now. It wouldn't be the first time! Nonetheless, those credit card companies are privately owned. I'm indifferent about the situation because I'm shielded from the facts on both ends. I'm not going to say allowing donations to any group over another is "immoral" though.

      Let's tally one for you, you get the point for the Visa/MasterCard incident in this example. Do you have an explanation for the others? Any other incidents you'd care to share that may shift my opinion? I'm all eyes!

      • Anonymous
        November 8, 2011 at 2:04 pm

        What about Chanology? Anon brought the Scientology Sect to light with infographics, websites, videos, harnessing the power of social media.
        They manifested many times and got the media's attention on the subject. How's that not a good thing?

    • Ryan Dube
      November 9, 2011 at 12:44 am

      I agree - I've been supporting their efforts at my own blog, and I find both groups to hold honorable and just intentions, and I always agree with the targets that they choose. In fact I cheer ever time I hear about one of their successful infiltrations into some fat-cat, greedy corporate powerhouse that thinks it is invincible and above the law. I personal stand in support of Anonymous and LulzSec...their efforts are long overdue.

      I don't agree that Craig is passing judgement - he has a right to have an opinion. His opinion was well written and clearly laid out. While I feel he may not fully appreciate the mission of Anonymous, I don't see any bias or judgement in what he's written in this article.

  7. Handles63
    November 8, 2011 at 3:56 am

    No one would argue that the incidents attributed to Anonymous and Lulzsec were not illegal but so is insider trading, conspiracy to manipulate markets, deceptive and fraudulent business practices and a myriad of other activities that banks and multinational corporations engage in every day. The villains operating behind the veil of respectability of these institutions and protected by their legal Samuris are rewarded with multi-million dollar bonus. To be truly a villain one must be benefiting from the crime. It seems to me that the only benefit that these hackers have sought is the satisfaction of demonstrating a small slice of the chaos that they could bring to the table if they chose to do so. Daniel Suarez gave us a very interesting view of what a co-ordinated hacker led revolution might look like in his books Daemon and Freedom. While the story may have been a little over the top and I haven't got the technical knowledge to work out if it is even a feasible scenario but it was both scary and exhilarating to consider a world where establishment is brought down by its reliance on technology and is replaced by a world where your reputation (how you deal with others) and the value of what you do for the community is the currency of the day. The book also showed that for hacker groups to be heroes they need leadership and moral courage.

  8. Gynotai
    November 8, 2011 at 3:25 am

    Matt, you nailed it.  The best way for IT people to see if their site is secure is to have people try to hack their way in.  Anyone remember back in the day some of the most famous hackers were offered jobs at some of the sites they were busted for hacking into.  That's a great way to see if your site is safe.  The only down side is if they do bet in, you hope they keep their mayhem to a minimum.

  9. Jerome
    November 8, 2011 at 3:16 am

    I guess these groups are working on a way to popularize hacking and thus becoming an institution over time. Others are hacking (industries and governments included) but Anonymous and Lulzsec are showing results as a marketing tool. 

    Members are growing, they have more power for their needs. Simple network harvesting. Good or evil? Human with interests.

  10. Matt
    November 8, 2011 at 2:04 am

    The idea of Good Guys and Bad Guys is puerile. You seem to have missed the main thing that these groups achieve - that is they regularly highlight just how insecure the systems are that we are assured we should put our faith in. Corporations and Governments will massively abuse the trust we put in them to keep our data secure by leaving hard drives of unencrypted data on trains, not bothering to put sufficient safeguards in place on servers, or even being so lax with security that anyone can get the data with no more than a little Javascript tampering. Without the intervention of these kind of groups, regardless of whether you condone the motives or outcomes of their actions, our awareness of the massive security flaws in many systems would be virtually zero.
    Heroes or Villains? Neither, because life is never black and white, regardless of whether it makes a good headline for a blog post or not. 

    • Zombied54
      November 8, 2011 at 2:22 am

      Perfectly stated. 

    • Craig Snyder
      November 8, 2011 at 9:25 am

      It is a well-stated comment, but not completely foolproof. They highlight insecurities, but what else do they do? Leak sensitive information reaped from those ventures? Cripple a service and customer experience for a prolonged period of time? Attack services and organizations with conflicting views? To say that the overall result of these breaches and intrusions is tightened security is, to me, as if saying, "Well, that bank wouldn't have been robbed if you had just one extra security guard," or "A thief managed to break into your house because your front door does not also have a padlock." Well, thanks for teaching me a lesson and from now on I'll bolt up my door, but could you maybe leave the wallet and jewelry on the table next time?

      Security isn't black and white, either. We'll never achieve 100% complete security, but improvements can always be made. Do you think it was worth it that several Sony customers suffered days and days of PSN downtime, as well as compromised account and security information, all for the potential of heightened security in the future? And after that, then what? Do we penetrate it again to prove another point, and continue to repeat the cycle? It can always happen. There's always a way. The idea of improving network security is great, but not as the expense of having it maliciously attacked in the first place.

      • Eduard Alexandru
        November 8, 2011 at 11:35 pm

        If your foot wouldn't hurt when you hit a brick .. would you look more careful where you step next time ?!

        I'm just saying that what's happening has its use .. and anyway, you can't put a stop to it, people will be people, but i think the smart thing to do - from outside the system - is to take the data, learn from it, and use it to your advantage in some way .. 

    • Aibek
      November 21, 2011 at 8:54 am

      well said