The Wall Street Journal and US National Security Agency are bleary-eyed with terror over the newest cyber bogeyman: Anonymous is going to cause a blackout! Except they can't, and they won't -- they're saying so themselves. So why the misinformation?
According to the WSJ, "The director of the National Security Agency has warned that the hacking group Anonymous could have the ability within the next year or two to bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack." Idiocy. Even putting aside the major hedging of "next year or two" and "limited", the claim is absurd. You can pin plenty of pejoratives upon Anon -- nihilist, anarchist, devilish -- but terrorist isn't one of 'em. However misguided Anonymous' ethos may be, they're at least ostensibly a populist group. Even in the LulzSec days of mayhem for its own sake, the targets were always entities of authority and moneyed interests -- the cops and Sony.
But the power grid? Not on the target list. The Journal quotes a clueless think tank yapper with the following zinger: "You want to occupy Wall Street? How about turn Wall Street off? Even for a day." Yeah! Except shutting off power to lower manhattan would cause an immense amount of pains-in-asses for everyday people. The same people Anon would like to think it's sticking up for: "Anonymous' general viewpoint recently has been fighting on behalf of ordinary citizens against leaders and power structures. Attacking electricity grids would harm those people more than our opponants [sic]," one member told me.
Anonymous' de facto official Twitter channel echoes the bullshit sentiment:
The NSA's reprehensible fear-mongering and attempts to discredit #Anonymous are transparent and baseless.
NSA's alarmist rhetoric & fear-mongering is reprehensible. They should focus on the myriad of current security holes.
The Anon I talked to has a guess about the NSA's report, and I suspect he's right:" It's explicitly designed to provoke anti Anon sentiment and alarm. This isn't the first time such ridiculous statements have been made by the government about us, and it surely won't be the last either." Making Anon scary to people along with companies and police will go a long way. When a company gets hacked, few people outside of that company care -- PSN blackouts notwithstanding. But if our lights are at risk? Off with their avatars.
Original photo: Brian Weed/Shutterstock