Cambodia has recently had a brush with cyber-hacktivist group, Anonymous, after local authorities arrested two of their members. The two men were allegedly part of a planned cyber attack wherein the Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) website was taken offline for two hours. Shortly after their arrest, Anonymous posted a video declaring their intention to take action against the Cambodian government lest they decide to ‘liberate’ the people of Cambodia.
Starting as a simple imageboard on 4chan back in 2003, Anonymous has quickly become one of the most popular online entities today. Listed as one of Times 100 most influential people in 2012, Anonymous is not just one person but a global network of hacktivists who use hacking as a means of promoting human rights and information ethics. This is clearly reflected in their mantra which reads: “We are Anonymous, We are Legion. We do not forgive. We do not forget. Expect us.” But perhaps the most memorable feature of anonymous is their prominent use of the Guy Fawkes mask, a symbol of revolution and freedom from oppression of any kind.
Anonymous has taken on many large organisations and governments since its inception but its modus operandi has always remained the same. The most common tool used is a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack that makes a network unaccessible to its users. This is done by having members overload the server with external communications requests so much that it cannot respond to legitimate website traffic, thus rendering it completely unavailable.
More serious attacks however include hacking into company databases and disclosing customer information. When Paypal and Amazon cut the option to donate funds to Wiki-Leaks, Anonymous members began hacking into the private databases of these companies and uploading classified user information, including credit card numbers and PIN details online. A similar situation happened here in Cambodia where the mobile operator Cellcard had its servers hacked, releasing thousands of phone numbers and PIN codes belonging to subscribers and Cellcard personnel.
So who are the Hackers in Cambodia? Well according to popular blog, Angkor.co, anyone who has knowledge of technology and access to a computers can become a hacker. Most hackers here in Cambodia, identify themselves as hacktivists who hope to achieve freedom of speech for the people. They constantly gauge their abilities and test how much they have learnt by trying to hack into various web pages on the internet. Not only does this get their point across but it also prompts local websites to improve and maintain their website security.
Today, hacktivism is either considered as a crime or as a form of free speech, and in Cambodia, the law clearly stands against hacking. However, as Nicolas Danet, co-author of Anonymous, Internet Hackers or Digital Alter-globalists? : said, “The hacktivist movement is evolving, and some of them are now joining forces with NGOs. (…) it could lead to a hybrid collaboration between organizations and hackers. This is only the beginning.”