Hacktivism – Good or Bad?

Hacktivism is the act of hacking, breaking into a computer system, for a politically or socially motivated purpose. The individual who performs an act of hacktivism is said to be a hacktivist. (Rouse, 2007)

Hackitism has been around for decades, starting with Marian Rejewski (Polish Mathematician) and Alan Turing during the Second World War with iterations of the enigma. This has created the foundation to what we know as hacktivism today, much like hackers, hacktivists use the same techniques to gain information by disrupting services and bring attention to social and political issues.

There are many cases where people have used hacktivism as a way to bring to light information that is being hidden to the public, the most known case would be that regarding Wikileaks and Edward Snowden. Former CIA employee Edward Snowden, leaked private government documents to the public, this case much like many others have sparked the debate over whether hacktivism is a criminal offence or not.

The debate on the topic takes two sides, one of which is against hacktivism, relaying it as an act that is damaging to the public as well as having the ability to cause harm. On the other side of the debate hacktivism is seen as a form of free speech, allowing those to use it as a form of protest against an organisation or government to spark change.

Anonymous has now become the face of hackivism has the icon has been used in various protest regarding different political and social situations. Hacktivism if done correctly and taken the precautions were needed can be effective and cause minimal harm, however, if done without care can cause serious backlash from other parties involved.



16 thoughts on “Hacktivism – Good or Bad?

  1. It is incredible to think how long hacking has been around. Computers may have developed but the ideas and reasons for hacking are still the same – to actively seeking out the truth and the need for change. The debate of whether hacktivism is a good or bad form of activism, is a difficult one as both sides of the debate have reasonable points. This article complements your blog as it also discusses whether or not hacking is a good thing, and how far will hackers go for the cause. http://www.computerweekly.com/opinion/Hacktivism-Good-or-Evil

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hey this is a really good response to this weeks topic and looks further into not one side but two sides of Hacktivism. Do you think that by having hackers who are bringing information to the public that they are unaware of to light, its a good thing for us or do you think it has more implications than good?

    Here is an example i could find that shows hacking impacts on society:


  3. Hey there,

    You did great by taking a look at the problem in two sides. In legal terms, hacktivism is not accepted as you are not allowed to break into others’ system. However, in terms of ethics, it is, as you said, it promotes free speech and the right of people to raise their voice against control and regulation that do harm to them.
    I totally agree with you that hacktivism should be done ‘correctly with precautions’, that’s why we have the black-hat and white-hat hackers.
    My only recommendation is that maybe you should bring about examples that are different than those provided in the lecture and weekly materials, so we can have broader view upon the topic.
    This topic mentions 9 famous cases of hacktivism that I think you might enjoy.

    Great work. Keep it up !


  4. I think it is necessary to split the term hacking and hacktivism. They both use the same technique, as you mentioned, but hacktivism targets to bring about truth and fairness to the public, and therefore, just my personal perception, it is sort of an act of democratic practice. Whilst, hacking may contain various meanings, it could be for good purposes, it could be not. Hacktivism can be seen as a type of hacking, but ethically, it promotes human right, so probably, what are considered bad, could be acts of hacking, not hacktivism. This article describes how hacktivism has affected us all, and do you think the world is a bit harsh to hacktivists? (http://www.pcworld.com/article/239594/how_hacktivism_affects_us_all.html)


  5. This is a really interesting way to showcase hacktivism. You touched on some key elements and briefly stated the positive and negative aspects of Hactivism. However, to improve this, you could include examples to explain what your points further. So, with the negative implications, you could use the example of the attack on Sony where it didn’t just harm the company as a whole, but also compromised the lives of people using the service. This saw millions of peoples credit card details being released to the public. Check out this site for more info about this example: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2888339/Hackers-release-cache-13-000-passwords-credit-cards-Playstation-Xbox-Amazon-users.html
    It’s interesting to look at Hacktivism as enforcing the freedom of information and harming a company at the same time. But what we often don’t think about is the people who are using the service and how it impacts their day to day lives.


  6. Your podcast highlighted this weeks topic extremely well and I thoroughly enjoyed it 🙂 The question is, and always will be, how far will individuals go to see the truth, at what point will a hackers curiosity peak and what will make them stop, will they ever stop? This then leads into the idea of the positive and negative connotations of hacktivism and the affects on society which you touched upon in your post. If I could say anything, more depth into the case of hacktivism would have been nice. The fact that hacking allows for freedom of speech and oppression leads back to that of individuals feeling a sense of insecurity in their own community. Therefore, hacking wont stop until people have stopped feeling this oppression that spreads due to communication and information networks. In no way am I saying that hacking is a bad thing, it can start revolutions as we can see from hacker group ‘anonymous’ attempt at starting a revolution (http://www.americasfreedomfighters.com/2014/01/05/hacker-group-anonymous-calls-for-revolution-americas-freedom-fighters/). Its crazy again that the internet can cause such a fuss at such speed and scale.

    Here is also why people hack: (http://informationassurance.regis.edu/ia-programs/resources/ia-update/why-do-people-hack) giving a little more insight into why individuals do it.

    Great post 🙂

    ~ krisesandchrosses ~


  7. Loved the sound bite! It was a good way to show what the idea behind hacktivism is and the sound effects fit perfectly with the theme. You used relevant examples in your text to explain some early iterations of hacktivism and a well known example from modern times.
    To improve your post, adding further details on how hacktivism can be damaging to the public would have been beneficial. For example, explaining that when companies are hacked the personal and private information of the consumers can be released which can be anything from bank details to their address – not something most people would be happy about revealing to millions of online users. Although sometimes the hackers are looking to do good by exposing a company, this can come at the cost of the public. Here’s an article explaining the way hacktivism can affect consumers: http://www.pcworld.com/article/239594/how_hacktivism_affects_us_all.html


  8. Great approach to this week’s topic, especially with the focus on the group Anonymous. Interesting how whilst the presence of Hacktivism is quite unsettling, it can indeed be used for good.
    Loved the soundcloud track too!


  9. There are some great points you have made here about the ethics of hacking and how there are two perspectives to every story. It isn’t always so easy to draw the line between right and wrong when in the real world every action has consequences. Just like example you have used with Alan Turing and Enigma, from one perspective he may be seen as a hero who’s ‘hacking’ machine played a part in ending the war but I am sure there were many Germans at the time who saw him more like a terrorist. None the less I think he is a great man because without him computing wouldn’t be what it is today.


  10. Great audio piece! I had started reading your post with the music playing at the start and even that made me feel like a hacker or even a spy with a new assignment. You were able to show the hackers mindset through that piece really well. You successfully presented the argument over hacktivism. the video focusing on Anonymous worked well in backing up your post.


  11. I like how you sat on the fence with the issue and showcased both sides of the argument. In order to fully explore the topic however, maybe including some of the consequences of Hacktivism on the general public can bring your blog to a much more relatable experience. Including a soundcloud file is also a fresh spin that worked nicely.


  12. I really enjoyed your blog post as you explored both the positives and negatives of hacktivism instead of just pointing gout that it is wrong. Your blog post was very well written and I like how you included a different medium – the SoundCloud clip- into your post as it added more value to it. You have successfully presented a great argument to do with hacktivism for this topic!


  13. By starting the birth of hacking with Alan Turing you open a can of worms. Turing was hailed as a hero for his actions in shortening the Second World War, and his achievements in hacking the German transmissions was unheard of. The reason why his heroicism was so profound is that the enemies (the Germans) were so defined. Nowadays, by using ‘anonymous’ to protect their identity, hackers also remove their humanity and therefore blur the lines between hero and vigilante.


  14. I like your argument about the Hacktivism. It is true on this topic takes two sides, either one has its supporting reason. However, this is difficult by only define the good or bad on one complex topic though, since there are multiple factors to cause.


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