Hacktivism is the term used to describe hacking activity that’s typically for political and social purposes, attacking corporations, governments, organizations and individuals.

Hacktivist groups may deface websites, redirect traffic, launch denial-of-service attacks and steal information to make their point.

A hacktivist group dominated headlines in 2011 with attacks on Sony, PBS, the U.S. Senate, the CIA, FBI affiliate InfraGard and others.

Other hacktivist groups have engaged in what they consider to be civil disobedience through distributed denial-of-service attacks against websites of governments, banks and other institutions. Another group released 90,000 email addresses of U.S. military personnel in an attack on a federal government contractor.

The variety of targets seems to show that almost any institution could be at risk, although only a small minority is affected by hacktivist attacks.

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