Cyber Vigilantism

Cyber vigilantism encompasses the activities of an individual or a group of individuals to expose some form of cybercrime. These vigilantes act outside of the law and, as such, employ tactics that can be deemed unethical to enact their idea of justice. They often end up exposing illegal and corrupt individuals, businesses, and nations.

The process of cyber vigilantism

  • Data collection: Because the targets of cyber vigilantism are often high-value, the activists need time to gather enough sensitive data, discover weaknesses and decide the kind of attack. 
  • Cyber shaming: Once a target is identified, the next step is directly shaming them through posting videos or screenshots of them engaging in one of the many immoral acts for which they’ve been targeted. 
  • Doxxing: These activists will often reveal sensitive information about their targets to the public, including phone numbers and addresses. 
  • DDoS attacks: This is done to sabotage the target’s business since a DDoS attack renders network servers inactive.

Examples of cyber vigilantism

In 2011, a group of “hacktivists” known as Anonymous launched an attack on a list of dark websites they suspected were responsible for sharing child pornography. The attack campaign was known as Operation Darknet. The group has continued to launch such attacks ever since.

Sony Pictures was another example of cyber vigilantism. Although some believe the attack was because of a movie where the North Korean leader was assassinated, it could also be because Sony had made use of unethical business practices.