Wednesday, November 09, 2011

When Hackers Battle Mexican Drug Cartels...

The hacker group Anonymous is highly controversial. At times they have been a force for good - for instance, when they assisted Iranians protesting their authoritarian government. Other times they've been a force for the not-so-good - like when they launched cyberattacks against a wide array of legitimate businesses that opposed Wikileaks last year.

Suddenly, the cyber-world of hackers is clashing head-on with its real-world counterpart. According to InfoWorld, the Zeta Mexican Drug Cartel recently kidnapped a member of Anonymous for making critical statements about them. The Zeta Cartel is known to have murdered and dumped the bodies of dozens of people on the side of one Veracruz highway.

Members of Anonymous responded by posting this YouTube video threatening to publicize the names of all Zeta collaborators unless the Anonymous member was freed - claiming they could identify journalists, police officers, and even taxi drivers.

What happened then?

Zeta has not shied away from targeting its online critics. In September the crime group hung two people from an overpass with a nearby sign warning bloggers and "online snitches" to beware, according to Wired. Later the same month, the decapitated body of another social media reporter was found with a similar warning.

Worried about the impact on both misidentified people and Anonymous followers, other supporters of the Anonymous movement worked to dismantle the operation over the weekend. In effect, the group canceled the attack, according to online news site Milenio.

So Anonymous is retreating. Wow. The hacker group that has reveled in its anarchic role in cyberspace has apparently met its match... that match being "reality". Keyboards versus shotguns is quite the wake-up call.

It's one thing for indivuals to try and wreak digital havoc from the safety of their living rooms, anonymously, with little concern for the consequences. Usually there are none. However, take those same individuals, remove them from their safe confines, and make them accountable for their actions, and it's a whole different ballgame.

To be clear, in no way, shape, or form should the Zeta cartel's actions be even remotely condoned or justified. They are, in fact, despicable, and downright frightening. It's just interesting to observe - as someone who's been following the misadventures of Anonymous for several years - how these folks aren't nearly as brazen when their actions might reap consequences back upon themselves.


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