Ask anyone what they think of spam and chances are they’ll tell you that it isn’t something they’d like to deal with, with most of the opinion that spam isn’t only annoying, but troubling too. After all, most people know of someone who has been affected by a spam attack in some way or another, and the outcome of these attacks often has a variety of unwanted knock-on effects.
However, a recent spate of spam attacks by the hacktivist group Anonymous may very well represent the first time that a spam attack hasn’t been met with the usual chorus of groans from the general public, but instead amusement and even applause.
The attacks involve taking down social media accounts used by ISIS, as well as bombarding the extremists with spam, often bombardments of memes. The group has been using a variety of strategies and techniques in their war on the extremist group, including uncovering hashtags used by ISIS and its network of recruiters and spamming these accounts to the point where they become unusable.
The aim of these spam attacks is to make it harder for the extremists and their supporters to use social media accounts to communicate. To some this seem like a useless approach, but experts have said on many occasions that disrupting ISIS’s ability to communicate via social media is akin to throwing a spanner in their works, so it’s only natural that this type of sabotage is being used by the hacktivists.
Anonymous’ ‘Operation ISIS’ may not have been greeted favourably by security agencies – most would like to see their email and social media accounts left alone so that they can continue to be monitored – but many people interviewed by news media agencies see the attacks as warranted, especially in the wake of the Paris attacks.