The past, present and future of hacktivism:
From the Electronic Disturbance Theater to Anonymous, the Cyber-partisans and beyond
This paper will start by defining the hacktivism phenomenon and looking at the historic roots of hacktivism during the 90s and early 00s when the first groups started appearing and organising online protests after the popularisation of the Internet. It will then analyse the second wave of hacktivism with the birth of Anonymous a few years later and their actions which made hacktivism globally known. The essay will subsequently explain how Anonymous alongside other hacktivist groups such as the Cyberpartisans in Belarus have come back to the fore with the current events in Ukraine and the wider region, but also globally. After providing some context regarding the past and present of hacktivism, the analysis will focus on the risks and concerns originating from such activities that generally violate computer misuse laws, particularly when linked to international conflicts such as the war in Ukraine, but will also explore any positive dimensions of hacktivist protests for global politics. Finally, the paper will explore the possible hacktivist goals and tactics for the future and will address related cybersecurity concerns for governments and private organisations that might be targeted by those activities.
Vasileios graduated from Athens Law School and subsequently completed his LLM in IT and Telecommunications Law and his PhD in Law at Strathclyde University, Glasgow, with distinction. He has been a University of Portsmouth employee since 2014, where he has been the course designer and leader for the first in the UK BSc in Criminology and Cybercrime. Vasileios is also the director of the Cybercrime Awareness Clinic and has received funding for different cyberawareness projects, from the European Union, the UK National Cyber Security Centre, Hampshire Constabulary, the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner of Hampshire and the Economic and Social Research Council. Vasileios has won the National Cyber Awareness Award for his work with the Clinic and has published extensively on hacktivism, online politics and civil society, cybercrime law and regulation and cyberawareness and cybersecurity for vulnerable groups.