The LulzSec hacking group continued its march through the databases of large companies and government agencies this week. Despite the arrest of a young man who was reportedly involved with the group's operations, LulzSec has been as busy as ever.
In the process, the group has had something of a polarising effect. Many in the security community have condemned its tactics, including some who accuse the group of extortion.
LulzSec has also picked up something of a cult following among those who enjoy seeing large corporations and government agencies exposed for poor security practices.
So in this week's Top 10, we look at what there is to like and dislike about LulzSec's summer hacking spree. Before your ire is aroused, we don't condone these attacks, but there's something to be said in seeking silver linings.
Honourable Mention: Hacktivism awareness
Shaun Nichols: The concept has been around for years, but 'hacktivism' is a term which has only recently entered the public consciousness. And with the recent activities of LulzSec, Anonymous and other rogue groups, it may have finally gone mainstream.
It is a bit ironic that people associate LulzSec with hacktivism, given some of the rumours surrounding the origins of the group. Many believe that LulzSec was started by a faction of the larger Anonymous project.
Where Anonymous was focused on activity around socio-political issues, LulzSec seemed to enjoy hacking game companies, web services and other general targets.
That has changed recently, however. After LulzSec made headlines for its attacks on game companies and US government agencies, the group showed its political side, posting a mission statement and taking a stance on controversial issues such as immigration policy in Arizona.
They still may be in it for 'Lulz', but LulzSec has also associated itself with hacktivism in the minds of many.
Iain Thomson: I'm still iffy about this one. Getting people engaged is all well and good, but if this is the level of protest I'm less than impressed.
These hacking groups are important, but they aren't mass movements by any stretch of the imagination, just small cabals that pursue their own ends.
Mass protest involves putting yourself physically on the line with others for a coherent point of principle, and part of me feels that these types of actions are a distraction, not a solution.
That's not to write off online activism, however. The internet has proved itself an excellent organising tool and publishing mechanism. But defacing web pages and launching distributed denial-of-service attacks isn't protest that changes anything - it's the online version of tagging or smashing shop windows.
5. Access to information
Iain Thomson: This one came so low on the list because the information that LulzSec released is hardly earth-shattering in comparison to something like WikiLeaks.
So far we've seen very little that is going to shake the institutions LulzSec has taken on. For all its lofty rhetoric, LulzSec hasn't really come up with the goods as yet. But that may well change.
One of the LulzSec team is reputed to be responsible for the attack on HBGary, which led to the publication of the company's email database. Inside were all sorts of goodies, including plans to discredit and threaten journalists who were seen to be supporting WikiLeaks, and offers of digital surveillance of anti-union elements of the US Chamber of Commerce that bordered on hacking.
You could argue that we shouldn't be happy to get access to this information, that it was private and serves no good. There's some validity to this point, but Shaun and I are journalists, and telling us not to get excited about new information is like advising sharks to calm down during a chumming session.
Shaun Nichols: With the AntiSec campaign in full swing, I think it's a safe bet that we will see more interesting data released around the activities and plans of government and law enforcement groups.
Part of the reason people are so interested in this sort of information is because governments are ridiculously protective of even the most unimportant documents. The Freedom of Information Act created a nice outline for a system which shed light on the workings of government, but in practice it is painfully ineffective.
Once you get through all the red tape it can take months, if not years, for officials to finally decide whether to release information. If the sought-after documents hold data that exposes corruption or wrongdoing, you can pretty much forget about seeing them.
On this level, platforms such as WikiLeaks and perhaps LulzSec are necessary. Yes, there needs to be discretion on the part of the individual when it comes to matters of security or privacy, but the web needs an open forum for disclosing and discussing information that affects the entire world.
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