On Thursday, a hacktivist group claiming to be Anonymous made good on previous threats and launched an attack against Donald Trump. Those responsible allegedly posted Trump’s Social Security number along with several other pieces of information that were already public. The names of Trump’s family numbers, for example, are readily available, but one can assume these tidbits were included as a means of intimidation. In addition, contact information for Trump’s associates and his own cell phone number were published, though that last detail surfaced last year and was likely changed before yesterday’s info dump.
The Trump information arrived with an accompanying #OpWhiteRose assignation, which refers to the early 1940s opposition movement against the Führer (because not even hackers can refrain from associating Trump with Hitler). Word on the internet is that the group will release more in a few weeks, but potential damage remains mysterious. Also, do these hackings truly involve Anonymous, or is an independent cyber vigilante blowing classic Trump smoke?
We simply don’t know yet. Anonymous isn’t a centrally organized group of hackers that coordinate and cooperate with each other’s respective missions. Instead, this entity is regarded as a loosely collected gathering of hackers, who support or disavow various causes according to whim. Anyone can claim to be Anonymous, and proof is difficult when the group’s presupposition revolves around not being identified. To complicate matters, anyone on Twitter can shout, “Fake!” at will. The official Anonymous YouTube account did warn Trump in early March, but these are guys running around in Guy Fawkes masks. If some jokester (who could belong to an offshoot or be completely unaffiliated) plops on the same damn mask, well, no one can get too ruffled at being misrepresented.
One thing is certain — a group or person posted Trump’s alleged Social Security number, and the matter is so circular that no sense will come of wondering whether “real” mask wearers did this. Previous Anonymous operations have been marred by similar nebulous origins, and a brief dig into cyber history reveals shenanigans. In fall 2015, mainstream media reported that Anonymous vowed to reveal 1,000 Ku Klux Klan members’ identities. Someone dumped data, which was accompanied by allegations of falsehood. Anonymous later dropped “real” information, but again, it’s hard to sift through reality when it comes to anonymity. Even so-called vouching parties are hard to take seriously without named sources.
However, few can deny how Anonymous has secured some success within its short life. Efforts against ISIS led to the takedown of several websites used to disseminate terrorist-related information. Still, a whole timeline of events have been linked to Anonymous, and several of the acts came from offshoots or rogue parties. As such, history will have trouble shaping a coherent narrative for this hacktivist group. Are they full of mischief, or do they operate (albeit illegally) with the purest of intentions? Neither option can be relied upon as a fully accurate description.
Anonymous is amorphous, and this quality helped it cripple its first target, Scientology. Through the hackers’ cooperation with Wikileaks, the religion/cult lost a lot of allure. Once folks caught wind of the fabled Xenu story in scripture form, the jig was up. No one wanted to shell out thousands of dollars for textbooks based upon disembodied souls in volcanoes. Even more importantly, ex-members of Scientology (including Jason Beghe) were inspired to reveal their stories in a very public way. This particular fight was aided by Anonymous’ cloaked nature, for the cult’s goons have no problem harassing their critics and threatening legal action or violence. Also, the hackers hit Scientology in the pocketbook, which is a most effective strategy in taking down any large-scale entity. Scientology never recovered its business-machine prowess.
So, we return to the topic of Donald Trump and Anonymous’ crusade against him. If the group wishes to prevail again, the most effective method would be similar to how they confronted Scientology. That is to say, Trump’s tax documents are the biggest skeleton that his blue-suited closet has yet to unearth. These docs could be full of lies and fables like Xenu’s volcanoes, and we’ll see if the hackers actually deliver.