The Story Behind Anonymous | The Hacker Wars Documentary
What is Hacktivism?
In Internet activism, hacktivism or hactivism (a portmanteau of hack and activism) is the use of technology to promote a political agenda or a social change.
Who are anonymous?
The “man without a head” represents anonymity and leaderless organization. Anonymous is a decentralized international hacktivist group that is widely known for its various DDoS cyber attacks against several governments, government institutions and government agencies, corporations, and the Church of Scientology.
Who is Jeremy Hammond?
Hammond was raised in the Chicago suburb of Glendale Heights, Illinois, with his twin brother Jason. Hammond became interested in computers at an early age, programming video games in QBasic by age eight, and building databases by age thirteen. As a student at Glenbard East High School in the nearby suburb of Lombard, Hammond won first place in a district-wide science competition for a computer program he designed. Also in high school, he became a peace activist, organizing a student walkout on the day of the Iraq invasion and starting a student newspaper to oppose the Iraq War. His high school principal described Hammond as “old beyond his years”.
Hammond attended the University of Illinois at Chicago on a full scholarship. In the spring of 2004, during his freshman year, he exploited a security flaw on the computer science department’s website and went to department administrators, offering to help fix the security flaws on the site and looking to get a job. For inserting the backdoor, Hammond was called before the department chair and ultimately banned from returning for his sophomore year.
Jeremy, along with his brother Jason, has had a lifelong interest in music, performing in numerous bands through the years. Before Jeremy’s arrests, they were both actively performing in the Chicago ska band Dirty Surgeon Insurgency.
Hammond worked as a Mac technician in Villa Park, Illinois. He also worked as a web developer for Chicago-based Rome & Company. His boss at Rome & Company wrote in 2010 that Hammond is “friendly, courteous and polite and while we suspect he has a low tolerance for corporate posturing, he has never demonstrated any contempt for business in the workplace”.
Hammond founded the computer security training website HackThisSite at age 18, during the summer after his high school graduation. The website describes itself as “a non-profit organization that strives to protect a good security culture and learning atmosphere”. In its first two years the site got 2.5 million hits and acquired 110,000 members and a volunteer staff of 34.
During the 2004 DEF CON event in Las Vegas, Hammond delivered a talk that encouraged “electronic civil disobedience” as a means of protest against the annual Republican National Convention and its supporters.
On March 5, 2012, Hammond was arrested by FBI agents in the Bridgeport neighborhood of Chicago for actions related to the 2012–13 Stratfor email leak. The indictment was unsealed the following day in the Lower Manhattan federal district court. He is one of six individuals from the United States, England and Ireland indicted.
The arrests were largely due to the FBI informant known as Sabu. Fox News in Manhattan was first to break the story based on “access to Sabu’s handlers” of three arrests “on two continents”, a sealed federal indictment for six, and a “separate indictment” for Hammond. The story was later confirmed by other news agencies when the court papers were unsealed.
The case was prosecuted by the office of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Hammond was represented by Elizabeth Fink, “a firebrand attorney” with the National Lawyers Guild who won a settlement of $8 million against the Government of New York for ex-inmates of the Attica Prison riot.
In February 2013, the defense filed a motion asking presiding Judge Preska to recuse herself from the case on the basis that Preska’s husband, Thomas Kavaler, had an email address released in the Stratfor disclosure and works with Stratfor clients that were affected by the hack. Hammond’s legal team stated that Kavaler’s status “as both a victim of the alleged crimes of the accused and an attorney to many other victims creates an appearance of partiality too strong to be disregarded, requiring disqualification”. On February 21, 2013, Judge Preska denied the request for recusal because her husband did not recall subscribing to Stratfor’s mailing list and the only information released was his publicly available work e-mail address, and that Hammond’s alleged legal strategy was to have every judge recuse themselves until there were no judges left to try the case.
After pleading guilty to one count of violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA), Hammond was sentenced on November 15, 2013, to the maximum of ten years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He is currently serving his sentence in FCI Manchester in Manchester, Kentucky.
In his sentencing statement, Hammond said he was unaware of Stratfor’s vulnerabilities until he was given them by Sabu, who was “under the supervision of the FBI” at the time according to the FBI’s sealed complaint filed against Hammond.
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