This week, like most recent weeks, has been a busy one on the cybersecurity front. While the hacking group LulzSec reportedly disbanded last week, members of Anonymous allegedly broke into Apple's computers and members of Script Kiddies allegedly hacked Fox News' Twitter account and sent false messages regarding the President's assassination. The Apple attack is apparently part of the "AntiSec" campaign initiated by Anonymous and LulzSec to expose the sorry state of cybersecurity in the world.
For many years, the Internet was referred to as the next Frontier, a Wild West type place with little structure and rules. That analogy seemed to drop away for awhile but could be making an encore appearance this year with the antics of Anonymous and its offshoots.
Indeed, the recent hacks have all the thematic touches of the old Western film genre. It has gangs that are breaking the law but have supporters who cheer them on for attacking the system (think "The Magnificent Seven" or "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid"). It has some hacking groups pursuing other groups, siding with the law seemingly, while not really siding with anyone (think "Once Upon a Time in the West" or "Wild Bunch"), as evidenced by the "A Team" hacking group's apparent release of LulzSec members' personal information. It has law enforcement being challenged on its techniques and tactics in pursuing the gangs (think "My Darling Clementine" or "Gunfight at the O.K. Corral."
The analogy is not perfect but the recent attacks are leaving many wondering what is next and how do we tackle the increased and bold lawlessness. Do we need the equivalent of a global Texas Ranger or Marshall Earp? Or is Internet civility around the corner somewhere? Somehow I think the answer lies somewhere in between....