Reporting on the hacker collective Anonymous is always fraught. This loosely organized group has no clear leader and no clear agenda. The anarchic nature of its technological attacks make it difficult to establish a who-what-where-when-why. And, of course, hackers use nom de guerres. Heck: Even the Islamic State has a spokesman.
Yet, in attacks on Israel, Visa and, to a lesser extent, Ferguson, Mo., showed that Anonymous — whoever and whatever it is at any given time — can be effective. Unlike 4chan, which revels in naked celebrity pics, it seems to have a social conscience. And its propaganda — straight out of “V for Vendetta” — makes good copy.
“Members of Anonymous — the shadowy, snide international collective of hackers and online activists — have played a key role in the growing confrontation outside St. Louis over Mr. Brown’s death,” the New York Times wrote in August, “goading and threatening the authorities, and calling the effort Operation Ferguson.”
So here goes: Anonymous has code on the ground in Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reports. The group announced it will wage cyberwar on the government in a video circulated through the Web site News2share.
“It has come to our attention that recent tactics used against peaceful protesters here in the United States have found their way to Hong Kong,” a mechanical-sounding voice in the video says. “To the protesters in Hong Kong, we have heard your plea for help. Take heart and take to your streets. You are not alone in this fight. Anonymous members all over the world stand with you, and will help in your fight for democracy.
The video goes on to threaten to “deface and take every Web-based asset of your government off line.”
The South China Morning Post posted images of some Web sites it said were affected (warning: link contains profanity), but did not identify them. “Despite these vehement threats, the hacks thus far appear to be not on government websites but rather small organisations – including an Autism Partnership site – registered with a .hk domain name,” the paper wrote.
A list of Hong Kong government agency Web sites appears here. Early Thursday morning, many seemed un-hacked. Then again, Anonymous said it was offering its “first and only warning,” so perhaps it hasn’t acted yet.