by Sarah Cortes-Josh Corman, Akamai Director of Security Intelligence, appeared in the new film "We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists" screened today at DefCon, the largest computer hacker conference on earth. In the film, Corman, a former philosophy major, speaks about the origins of the hacktivist phenomenon "Anonymous."
The film traces the origins of Anonymous from various groups, including a loose association of friends who called themselves the "Cult of the Dead Cow" and enjoyed computer pranks. The film also covers early origins of "hackers" in MIT's Tech Model Railroad Club (TMRC) and the MIT Artificial Intelligence Laboratory.
From these origins, groups of hackers interacted on electronic bulletin boards and eventually on 4chan. From those identifying with hacker values and principals eventually evolved those identifying with the principals of Anonymous, Corman explains in the film. In 2010, Anonymous reportedly assisted Wikileaks in obtaining and publishing hundreds of classified US government documents, including the video "Collateral Murder."
Anonymous also provided significant assistance to the Occupy movements, one of which appeared in Harvard Yard in Cambridge in 2011.
"We Are Legion" director Brian Knappenberger appeared on the panel with Corman, as well as Chris Wysopal, also known as Weld Pond. Attorney Jay Leiderman appeared, who currently represents "hacktivists" and Anonymous "members" under indictment by the US government. Also appearing was Gabriella Coleman, anthropologist and the Wolfe Chair in Scientific and Technological Literacy in the Department of Art History & Communication Studies at McGill University. And, Mercedes Renee Haefer, who was arrested and indicted for denial-of-service attacks against online payment service PayPal.
Approximately 14,000 have attended DefCon this year in Las Vegas, Nevada.