No topic has garnered more headlines or sparked more discussion in recent months than the hacking campaigns of Anonymous and LulzSec.
The groups' ongoing AntiSec campaign has led many to debate the ethics of hacking and the driving forces behind so-called hacktivist groups. While many have condemned the groups as a criminal enterprise, others hail the hackers as online vigilantes standing up for internet freedom.
From the first word of breaches at Sony to the more recent saga of News International, Anonymous and LulzSec have claimed motivations ranging from political causes to boredom.
More recently, however, the AntiSec campaign has taken a far more serious tone as the hackers are now in the sights of federal authorities.
The political overtones are nothing new for Anonymous. Originally founded to combat the Church of Scientology, the group has since taken up causes against banks and government groups it believes to be corrupt.
Given Anonymous's background, a campaign such as AntiSec should come as no surprise. In the case of LulzSec, however, the motivations have been far murkier.
LulzSec first rose to prominence in May with its now infamous breach of Sony. The incident knocked the PlayStation network offline for weeks, and spread to other areas of the company's business as well.
At the time, LulzSec was dismissed as a group of pranksters, a collection of hackers looking to get a thrill by exploiting systems and reposting as much sensitive data as possible. Even the group's name indicated that they were merely looking for online thrills, or 'lulz'.
With the launch of the AntiSec operation, however, LulzSec appears to have undergone a rapid and dramatic change.
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