Unlike cyber criminals, who want to stay under the radar, Hacktivists like to make big splashy messages. The whole point of “cyber” activism is to use technology to get as many people as possible to notice your message, whatever it may be.
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Anonymous is a great example of this, with their well-known videos containing a man in a suit wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and speaking with a distorted voice over theatrical music. All of the Anonymous’ “operations” are designed to get noticed. Whether they’re trolling the Church of Scientology, DDoSing credit card providers, defacing websites, or doxing someone they disagree with, the goal is getting attention for their cause. What better way to get attention than to hijack a live TV signal or big event?
While hacktivists are known for their attention-grabbing videos, so far they’ve never taken over live TV or radio, and really gotten their message across to a wider audience. Movies and TV would have us expect “l33t h@x0rs” to take over the airwaves, but so far their strange hacktivist videos have been relegated to YouTube posts anyone can do. Hacking TV broadcasts may sound like sci-fi, but there is precedent. Back in the 80s, a weird, masked man (sound familiar?) took over a few Chicago TV stations for a few minutes at a time. While our TV broadcast have become more protected today, the breach to TV5Monde—a French broadcast network—shows that attackers still have the potential to take over the airwaves.
Next year, I expect cyber attackers to pull off some hack that gets broadcast to the world live. Perhaps they’ll take over a big stadium screen during the Super Bowl or World Cup; they might hijack all of the big TVs in Times Square; or perhaps they pull off the ultimate hacktivist’s dream, and hijack a major TV network’s live broadcast. Whatever it is, expect hacktivists to do something big that televises their revolution to the world live.
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