Hacktivist– a portmanteau of the words ‘hacker’ and ‘activist’—is a term used by individuals who engage in oftentimes illegal activity online for causes that they deem just. While individuals who describe themselves as such oftentimes engage in activities that cause a great deal of mayhem, they usually try to justify their actions by picking targets that are the objects of popular scorn, or at least scorn among the hacker community. These individuals present a threat to every site on the Internet. Like vigilantism, there is absolutely no framework or consistent criteria for the targets they choose or the methods they employ.
HBGary Federal, according to an article in the Independent, was recently the victim of an attack by a well-known group of such individuals. Anonymous, the name that these individuals use to describe themselves collectively, has been associated with a great deal of disruptive activity online. While they have oftentimes targeted individuals who were in the process of using social networks to engage in activities that may or may not have been illegal themselves, groups such as Anonymous oftentimes target businesses, governments and other entities that people rely on. If you have a website online, such individuals are always a threat.
If your intention is to try to learn as much as possible about security to make sure that you’re safe from such groups, you’re probably not going to have much luck. In fact, this is something best left to the professionals at your web host. At the level that these hacker groups operate at, it takes somebody with significant experience in information technology and network engineering to even understand how their attacks are launched. What you can do to keep yourself, and your site, safe is to make sure that you follow some basic security protocols.
Everybody knows that strong passwords are a necessity where Internet security is concerned. Your web host may even force you to change your password at regular intervals to ensure that your credentials aren’t out there on the Internet. However, there are other things you can do. For instance, if you run a blog site, make sure that you require posts to be approved before they go up. If you want to make it more secure for your users, you can just go ahead and eliminate the ability for any commenter to put a link in their comment.