The 70s called. They want their protest back.

I love rocking the boat, breaking a barrier, or just generally shaking things up.  I’ve never burned a bra…that was before my time, but I’m certainly not opposed to it to prove a point 😊  


The 60s and 70s were full of peaceful sit-ins, marches, strikes, and bras ablaze.  There was even a music movement around social dissatisfaction with war and a general anti-establishment sentiment.  Woodstock was an enormous statement about peace and change. 


The 80s and 90s used petitions, walkouts, and rallies.  Social consciousness was fueled by grungy music, walkouts, and organized rallies.  The goal was still informative to initiate change with a swell of support. 


But let’s hand it to the Millennials and Gen Z. They really brought it.  They only need a one-person hacktivist wrecking crew to stage a coup. 


With the massive influx of available technology and social media, they used tech to disrupt, champion causes, and at times to directly protest its creators.  We should have seen that one coming…they took rocking the boat to sinking the whole damn ship. 


Looking back at the nature of tech disruption and attacks, what started as a playful game to get something for free, like a little long distance phone service rapidly morphed.  Denial of service, massive outages, and outright theft has taken protests to an entirely new level; committed by an army of one. 


From global elections to the vulnerability of the power grid, black hats can easily hit monetary targets, but they can also champion a target for a cause.  And they can do it alone. 


Hacktivists created WikiLeaks, impacted the Russia-Ukraine war, joined Occupy Wallstreet, attacked Scientology, executed Operation Darknet to rid the dark web of child pornographic material – the list is endless. 


In 2006, #MeToo was a battle cry initiated by a single woman on Myspace. That small phrase on a dead platform has grown into an equality movement raising awareness for Women for over two decades on every medium.  It resulted in countless separate movements, firings, resignations, policy changes, and both an exodus from and re-emergence of women into the tech workforce.  Talk about an unexpected outbound marketing campaign. 


Millennials and Gen Z have not only used social platforms as an agent of change, but to take matters into their own hands to cause disruption. 

Plenty of nefarious activities are executed merely for the sport of disruption.  In the last week, attacks on social platforms and the media have surged surrounding the US elections and frustration with our political landscape.  The goal of the disruption and statements following are to amplify beliefs and increase the volume of discontent. This modern-day walk-out is a virtual protest to the world. 


In my previous post, I talked about the massive amount of noise overtaking every form of media. It’s hard not to notice the crazy dynamic we live in with attacks piling up like jelly beans. Unfortunately for the hacktivist, they’ve become part of the noise.  


Protests and attacks occur so frequently, we’re accustomed to the noise and desensitized to the message.  The attacker has very little room to be effective. Either increase the pain of the attack or determine the cause doesn’t have enough strength to create a movement.  


There will always be a mechanism to communicate dissent but the need for physical presence of the masses isn’t a prerequisite. Thwarting dangerous behavior was easier when it was in front of you.  The message was also a lot more meaningful when it wasn’t every millisecond.  It’s also easier to execute anywhere in the world behind a screen. 


As the digital age continues to provide infinite avenues for commerce, communication, and education, it also opens the door to disruption and illegal activity. 

Our responsibility is to protect this delicate architecture and deploy countermeasures for stability.  As digital peacekeepers we serve to fortify and respond.  Socially conscious organizations vastly benefit from staying out of the fray. So do organizations that invest in a constant evolution of threat prevention, detection, and rapid remediation (but those are sadly hard to come by.)  As the ability to protest and threaten evolves, so should our tools to protect the target of those attacks. There’s a pretty easy equation to solve for X. You have to move faster than the bad guys. 


Ignorance is expensive.  Investment in data security and protection coupled with socially conscious policies and outreach was already the minimum investment 20 years ago. Are you remediating the digital protest of tomorrow with 1970 tools?  I really hope not… 

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