Saturday, February 12, 2011

Unmasked: Women and Anonymous

By Meghan B

Natalie Portman as Evey Hammond in V For Vendetta
For those not in the know, Anonymous is a loose collection of individuals who use DDoS attacks against websites, help get cat abusers arrested and call themselves legion. While they are usually considered to be teenage boys playing around with botnets in their basements, they have caused much grief and handwringing in the media.

While Anonymous is often considered a male organization, women have come to the forefront in recent raids and organized attacks by the group.

Anonymous spawned from, a notoriously all-male hive of internet scum, villainy and cat macros. They fight against everyone from teenaged girls, the Church of Scientology to the U.S. Government. Recently they've been in hot water for their work assisting Wikileaks.

It came to light this week that Anonymous had played a cat and mouse game against a security firm agent. Aaron Burr went undercover to allegedly profit off discovering Anonymous members and got, for lack of a better word, pwned.

Ars Technica gave an in depth report of what happened to Burr when he poked the biggest hornets nest on the internet. What makes the report special is that it pins the success of certain Anonymous raid on a 16 year old girl.

A team consisting of five Anonymous members attacked the company Burr worked for, extracting hundreds of thousands of emails. One of these members was apparently a 16 year old girl. Anonymous members used this fact to taunt their target.
"How does it feel to get hacked by a 16yr old girl?"
 There is also a fascinating article on Gawker of a 19 year old girl connected with Anonymous and how her home was raided by the FBI. In both cases, women are proving to be a part of the usually considered all male group. 

In a world where the idea of a female hacker hasn't evolved past the Angelina Jolie portrayal in Hackers, it's interesting to see women appear in the ranks of Anonymous. While the "hacking" Anonymous does falls into a strange internet gray area, I wouldn't be surprised if more women were uncovered in the organization.

The stereotype of a woman who can't work her own computer and must beg her gallant boyfriend or husband to repair it for her is a staple of sitcoms and commercials. To see a few girls break that with Anonymous is strangely encouraging. In a world where girls are told they can grow up to be whatever they want, some girls have chosen to grow up to be hackers. 

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  1. It's Barr, not Burr
    Nice blog, by the way :)
    Greetings from io9

  2. Girls? In *my* internets?

    It's more likely than you think.