Hacktivists develop cyberwarfare niche

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As 2013 comes into full view, I believe the new year may bring cyber events that will have the greatest impact yet on homeland security and foreign policy. My company recently released the 2013 Threat Predictions Report, and it paints an ominous picture of how rapidly the burgeoning “cyberchaos” industry is maturing.

So far, activist hackers — hacktivists — have rarely inflicted genuine trauma. Usually it’s shenanigans, political embarrassment or low-grade anarchy — as when the hacker group Anonymous hijacks websites of the Syrian government or the Westboro Baptist Church.

We think that’s changing. More extreme groups are getting the hacktivist habit. These are transnational forces united by devotion to a cause. They mean to do more than just tweak the powerful or spray revolutionary rhetoric across an official website. They are out to do real economic and/or political damage — to organizations, governments — and perhaps to you personally.