UK citizens appear to disapprove of hacktivist groups like Anonymous and LulzSec, but are split on how those caught should be treated, according to new research from security vendor PC Tools.
Some 40 per cent of respondents argued that hacking is 'never justified', regardless of motive. Two-thirds said that hackers should be branded criminals, while a third said that hacking is antisocial.
The results seem to contradict research carried out by V3 in August which showed that two-thirds of readers approved of the recent spate of hacking and distributed denial-of-service attacks by Anonymous and LulzSec, because they highlighted security failings in corporate systems and left the establishment red-faced.
Around a third of V3 readers went even further, claiming that they are 'loving every minute' of the hacking campaigns, which have now hit a huge number of public and private sector organisations all over the world from Sony to the FBI.
The PC Tools research tells a different story, however, which may be proof that the public is still undecided about these activities.
As if to confirm this, respondents were divided when it came to the thorny issue of what should be done to hackers once they've been caught.
Some 40 per cent said that tougher penalties for convicted hackers is the answer, while around the same number argued that hackers should be given a chance to contribute positively to society in roles that enable them to use their talent in a legal way.
The only thing we can probably all say with any degree of certainty is that, irrespective of sporadic police crackdowns, the hacktivist phenomenon is here to stay.
Phil Muncaster is news editor at V3.co.uk, a role he has fulfilled since January 2010. Previously he was chief reporter for IT Week, having also worked as a reporter and senior reporter on the publication from 2005.
Before IT Week, Phil worked as a researcher for the Rough Guide. Prior to his work in journalism, Phil spent three years teaching English in Japan.