Anonymous: Anarchy Fail
They were described as a leaderless, anarchic group of “hacktivists” who briefly brought down MasterCard, Visa and PayPal after those companies cut off financial services to WikiLeaks.
But inside Anonymous, the Guardian has found that the organisation is more hierarchical – with a hidden cabal of around a dozen highly skilled hackers co-ordinating attacks across the web.
The secretive group that directs the Anonymous network was also behind the assault on the Gawker websites in the US at the weekend, according to documents seen by the Guardian.
One member said the group’s “command and control” centres are invite-only, adding: “It’s to protect people, but if you have proven trustworthy you get invited – it’s not hard to do. It’s not some elitist structure but a way to keep the press and the odd bit of law enforcement seeing who issues commands.”
Members of the group and outside experts such as Gabriella Coleman, a New York University professor who has studied Anonymous, estimate that up to 1,000 people are members of the broader network, who make their computers available to co-ordinated cyber attacks. But the majority of members – put at 99% by one insider – have virtually no influence over the direction of the group or its strategy.