You probably don’t know this is going on — or maybe you do. A group of extremely able and sophisticated hackers, calling itself Anonymous, has successfully invaded important American computer systems, and plans to invade more. It has announced, anonymously, of course, that it will shut down the Internet March 31.
Experts say a black-out or even brown-out of the Internet would be unlikely, but you never know.
However, authorities concerned with digital invasions aren’t taking any threat from Anonymous lightly. The Wall Street Journal reports that Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the National Security Agency, has warned that Anonymous could have the capacity to “bring about a limited power outage through a cyberattack” within a couple of years.
Anonymous is a hard foe to fight. Instead of being enabled by one big server, it is a web of smaller computers, probably not unlike the one you have at home or in your office. The people using those computers are highly capable code slingers who appear to have as their primary goal the extension of their power.
With the power to shut down the Internet, for example, they could make all kinds of demands. Among them might be, for example, that Google be broken up into small companies, or that Facebook be taken off line until it stops snooping around in its users’ lives.
Or, Anonymous could try to interfere with battlefield communications, or sell its services to someone who has ill designs on the United States, or anyone else, for that matter.
Until recently, groups like Anonymous were fodder for thriller-writers. Now, they no longer are fictional. The only question is the degree of their power.
If the Internet goes dark on March 31, we’ll certainly get a clearer idea of what Anonymous really can do.