How Has Anonymous Shaped Hacking Culture and Fashion?
There’s no doubt that Anonymous, the vigilante hacking group or “hacktivists”, have made an impact on the world with their projects. Let’s delve into some of their more well-known antics for a moment. They hijacked the website of the controversial Westboro Baptist Chuch (WBC) after the church announced they would picket at the funerals of the Sandy Hook Massacre victims. WBC has gained widespread media attention due to their outspoken hate for gay and Jewish people, and their picketing at solider’s funerals.
Anonymous took on ISIS after the Paris attacks, hacking numerous websites associated with the terrorist group. Arguably their most noble campaign was against child pornography websites where they managed to take down several key sites in this area, including Lolita City.
But have Anonymous shaped the world in other ways outside of their hacking campaigns? What about in culture and fashion? What role has Anonymous played in shaping hacking culture and trends? Let’s take a look.
The Anonymous masks are also known as the “Guy Fawkes” mask. In the 17th century, Catholic political dissident Guy Fawkes attempted to carry out a gunpowder plot on the Houses of Parliament in England. Fawkes planned to kill the Protestant King James I and return England to Catholicism. However, the plan failed and Fawkes was swiftly executed. Every year on the anniversary of the failed gunpowder plot, Brits celebrate by burning a bonfire, setting off fireworks, and saying “remember, remember, the fifth of November”.
In the 1980s, graphic novelists Alan Moore and David Lloyd created a comic strip that featured a protagonist wearing a stylized mask based on Guy Fawkes as he fought an authoritarian state. This mask was then used in the V for Vendetta movie, again to represent a dissident battling a fascist state.
Although this symbolism of the mask fits with Anonymous’ vigilante message, it has been argued that the mask was popularised by a 4Chan meme known as “epic fail guy”. In reality, it’s probably a bit of both. 4Chan has long been popular with hackers and the mask just happened to symbolize the power of the people. It was a perfect fit! Today, the mask has become synonymous with vigilantism even outside of Anonymous, it’s a way to hide your identity but send a clear message about your stance on a subject.
Before anonymous, there was no organized group of hackers that had a presence that wasn’t solely negative. Hacking groups and hackers by extension were seen as criminals tapping away in dark rooms never to be seen, except when they were arrested and went court. Anonymous lifted the mask on this image, showing us that hackers are all around us, and there are lots of good-guy hackers.
This empowered hackers, testers, and wider IT professionals to be proud of their work and their culture. In the last ten years, we’ve really started to see the emergence of hacker clothing. Hacking enthusiasts can now buy T-Shirts and Hoodies with programming syntax on them, with “hacker” on them, or with hacking phrases and jokes. The public image of hackers has changed as a result of this. More and more people now understand that hackers work for legitimate companies doing good work to keep us and our data safe, and these hackers wear the T-shirt to prove it.
Below are our best picks for hacker clothing: