The evolution of the internet as we know it to be today has developed our society while also making it more vulnerable. For instance, our global economy has shifted from a focus on manufacturing to being information driven. The internet has made creating and sharing information easier than ever. Dr. Jay Gillette is calling for this era to be called the “Information Renaissance”, as he displays the similarities with the European Renaissance in his article, Leadership for the Information Renaissance: Clarity, Challenges, Opportunity. The main quote from his article that this blog will focus on is Dr. Gillette’s statement, “Renaissance times are paradoxically times of great human progress and great human conflicts”.
The internet provides vast information but it also is the source of great danger. One of the main examples of this is the Dark Web where seemingly anything can be bought. This is a place where black hat hackers often sell stolen information—from credit cards to social security numbers. Politically, cyberwarfare has become a hot topic for politicians and countries. For instance, the Russian Government has recently been attacking the United States’ government official’s information to spread an “anti-U.S. and anti-Western sentiment” throughout Russia and the World. Furthermore, it is not just the politicians being hacked but the people surrounding them—spouses, staff members, lawyers, accountants, and business partners—displaying the interconnected network we now live in.
The most notorious, or praised, group of hackers, depending on opinion, is the group Anonymous. This group terms itself as a “hacktivist” organization with the goal of taking down companies, organizations, or governments that its members as a whole feel deserve to be hacked or attacked. Anonymous mainly functions on inciting online vigilantism using script kiddies and botnets. Script kiddies are individuals that do not have the ability to write their own code so they use pre-existing code to hack into a system. On the other hand, botnets are used to shut down a website by sending excessive amounts of traffic. One of the well-known attacks conducted by Anonymous was the “Federal Attack” in 2012 that was in retaliation to the shutdown of MegaUpload. Another famous attack was the “Dark Discovery Attack” which resulted in child pornography websites and pedophiles on the dark net being shut down and exposed. Clearly, the Information Renaissance is more than an enlightenment period for scholars but is also a dangerous playing field for increasingly clever criminals as well.