LANSING – In 2016, hacktivism has become a mainstream force impacting millions of global lives. ‘Hacking for a cause’ has now become a weapon that transcends far beyond ‘antisocial geek misfit’ boundaries. From the DNC email hack to the Panama Papers, a surge in new hacktivism is now the top anti-establishment online tool for achieving a diverse set of causes around the globe.

A quick recap of the top online security stories in 2016 include a significant increase in ransomware emergencies, scary growth in online fraud such as whaling, terrorist use of social media and a long list of new malware threats.

But the surge in hacktivism trend has brought about the deepest and widest global cybersecurity impact, in my view.

As our offline and online worlds merge together as never before, hacktivism has become a weapon that brings global media attention and offers protestors a cyber “march on Washington” without large numbers of people. No doubt, the hacktivism topic moved onto center stage this past week with the release of hacked Democratic National Committee (DNC) emails by WikiLeaks.  

Some call it cyberespionage, while others call it radical transparency, but more and more people are starting to make the case for digital disobedience.

Anonymous and WikiLeaks are two of the most well-known hacktivist organizations, but the list of known hacktivist organizations is much longer.

Global anti-establishment causes have turned to hacktivism to release information that furthers their cause(s) in various ways. And these causes can be very diverse and range from national elections to offshore financial accounts to the Flint water emergency. What complicates matters is that many hackers do not fit neatly into legal and illegal categories, and the same people may hack for a variety of financial reasons or societal causes.

Many believe that nation states may have joined these causes — even ifhacktivist leaders, and leaders in countries such as Russia, deny the charge. Organizations like WikiLeaks claim that they are helping society by being a data broker and releasing information that the public “needs to see” in their view.

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