How Anonymous Works

Inside Anonymous

Anonymous is fond of using a logo of a person in suit, with a question mark replacing the face. But how do faceless, nameless people meet and coordinate sophisticated hacking attacks and massive real-world rallies? How do you become Anonymous?

The answer is anything but straightforward. Anonymous is hidden in plain sight. There are no official Web sites or social media feeds, of course, because Anonymous has no designated officials or leaders. But various factions of the group do update Twitter feeds and Web sites, such as AnonNews, which posts press releases and information about ongoing operations.

There are a few publicly accessible discussion forums where you can watch chats unfold, though you won't find any particularly sensitive information. Hang around long enough, prove your worth, display useful skills or knowledge and you may eventually receive an invitation to more private discussion groups. And then, maybe, you'll have the opportunity to participate in an Anonymous campaign.

You'll never really know who you're communicating with, of course. Anons don't reveal any personal information. And smart Anons don't go online with their own computers. Instead, they may use public computers, as well as software or services that hide their location.

Even with those kinds of precautions, Anons say that the organization isn't for everyone, and that participating in DDoS or hacking attacks can result in criminal charges and punishment. But they encourage the risk-averse to contribute using other skills, such as research, video production, press release writing, or just by offering insights and ideas into how best to execute new ops.

Although the people active within Anonymous do their best to hide their identities, the group as a whole is very public about its purposes. Anonymous almost always announces its intentions before launching ops. In doing so, the group demonstrates its willingness to be accountable for its own actions, and furthermore, it makes it more difficult for others to take credit for (or scapegoat) Anonymous for acts that the group doesn't commit.

In spite of all the precautions, once in a while Anonymous members are anything but. Keep reading and you'll see that the group doesn't always like the headlines it makes.