Is Anonymous Spinning Out of Control?

Illustration for article titled Is Anonymous Spinning Out of Control?

Yesterday, we learned Anonymous put out their very own hackeriffic OS—a tricked out version of Linux filled with tools for mischief. Oops! It's filled with trojans instead. Get used to more of this.


Word of the malware-filled pile word came from the AnonOps Twitter feed, one of the group's quasi-official mouthpieces:

The Anon OS is fake it is wrapped in trojans. RT

Is it wrapped in trojans? Maybe! It wouldn't be a novel occurrence; earlier this month, Symantec documented how many Anon groupies were tricked into downloading a trojan as part of Megaupload reprisal attacks. It's happened before. Either way, we're sure as hell not downloading it, and don't recommend you do either.

But one thing that's certain is that it's not is fake. It's very much a real thing. And whether it belongs to Anonymous or not is at the heart of an existential crisis that makes the group more unpredictable—and threatening—than ever.

For as long as we've been covering Anon, they've held steadfast to the tenet that the group has no leadership, there is no one in charge, there are no rules; Anonymous is everyone and no one. It's just an idea. Of course, this was false: there was an Anonymous elite—for a time more or less lead by turncoat Sabu—which was eventually betrayed and arrested. Now they're gone, and a power vacuum has taken their place. Inadvertently, that means Anonymous has realized its ideal: now nobody is in charge, and it's kind of ugly.

Without at least a spiritual leader like Sabu to keep a consistent ethos, Anonymous is truly whatever its members want it to be. Spreading viruses to be jackasses? Sure! How about being an asshole and leaking the names of abortion clinic patrons, all in the name of Anonymous? Who's going to stop someone like that? Who's going to disavow it?


The truth is that Anon always fed off some general principles. Loose, at times juvenile principles, but principles: corporations and governments are generally awful. Privacy is sacred. Populism is essential. You can read these tenets—if you squint—in most of Anonymous' greatest attacks, and they were handed down directly from the group's elite. Now most of that aristocracy is either arrested, scared, or disillusioned by Sabu's sellout to control much of anything. Goodbye tenets, hello Linux downloads full of malware—the Anonymous that Anonymous always wanted to be.


Leader or not, there are original members. But the thing is anyone can release anything and throw the Anonymous tag on it. There is no way to official source for the release. An unrelated group likely released this OS and figured if they put it under the Anonymous name that people would "trust" it.