Vigilante hackers do exist
Countless hackers make the headlines these days for disrupting companies’ activities or secret projects. Some companies even pay hackers to help improve security, but underneath this growing trend there’s an abundance of individuals or groups who use their abilities to make the world a better place.
Jester is considered an internet superhero. This mysterious figure has been hacking Islamic extremist websites for the past six years and single-handedly wiped out over 180 websites. According to his Twitter account, Jester is a “proud infidel, cyber minuteman” who has been listed in TIME magazine’s 30 Most influential people on the internet and his laptop is exhibited in the International Spy Museum, DC. He first appeared on Twitter in late 2009 and has been using his skills to either shut down, expose or deface any activity that may threaten the United States —particularly if it puts soldiers in danger. Legitimate companies that host shady sites usually receive a warning before the attack, CNN Money reported in January 2015.
Anonymous is considered by many the face of vigilante hackers. The notorious computer hacker group reacted after the massacre in Paris; in a series of messages posted on YouTube and Twitter, Anonymous claimed it took down over 3.800 Islamic State-related accounts as part of an operation nicknamed #OpParis. The group offered a link of the accounts that they took offline and released the following statement: “ISIS: We will hunt you, Take down your sites, accounts, emails, and expose you. From now on, no safe place for you online… You will be treated like a virus, and we are the cure… We own the internet… We are Anonymous; we are Legion; we do not forgive, and we do not forget. Expect us.”
Three years ago, the group started “Operation Free Korea” and revealed that if North Korea did not meet their demands —the leader’s resignation, uncensored internet access, installing free democracy and abandoning nuclear ambitions—, they would unleash a cyber war.
A vigilante hacker whose goal was to expose racists surfaced in October last year; although his Twitter account has been suspended, “Amped Attacks” used to post tweets such as “KKK and all racist I have a question. How does it feel knowing one man is taking you all down one by one?” The vigilante claimed he has shut down over 40 racist websites in less than two weeks and told Motherboard in a Skype call that his main mission is “drawing attention to all racism, because this is no longer the 1800s, early 1900s.”
The White Team recently compromised over 70,000 home routers and forced owners to make them secure against weak passwords, unauthorized access and DNS poisoning. The group created peer-to-peer botnet which infects routers to close off vulnerabilities; their malware has been open-sourced on GitHub.