Why? Despite its claims of being an anarchistic non-organization, Anonymous still managed to be fairly hierarchical and top-down; an ad hoc committee of experienced hackers makes most of the decisions about whom to target. And it's pretty clear that whoever is leaving those highly articulate manifestos around the WebberNets -- like the one earlier this week calling out NATO -- has probably had a driver's license for a few decades. To wit:
Anonymous would like to remind you that the government and the people are, contrary to the supposed foundations of "democracy," distinct entities with often conflicting goals and desires. It is Anonymous' position that when there is a conflict of interest between the government and the people, it is the people's will which must take priority….
We do not wish to threaten anybody's way of life. We do not wish to dictate anything to anybody. We do not wish to terrorize any nation. We merely wish to remove power from vested interests and return it to the people -- who, in a democracy, it should never have been taken from in the first place.
These are not your average script kiddies.
LulzSec, on the other hand? I wouldn't be surprised if most of them were still living in mom and dad's basement, talking about how awesome it is to be getting all this attention. To them, hanging out with the Anons was like having Dad come along when you go out to egg houses and leave graffiti in the middle of the night: a total drag.
LulzSec may in fact be Backtrace under a different name. If not, they're something very much like it. And I'm guessing we're about to see a flotilla of other Anon spinoffs -- digital delinquents with mad hacking skillz and absolutely no adult supervision.
Call it a hacking bubble. No one will be safe.
Many of them will get caught, of course. Three alleged members of Anonymous suspected of the Sony PSN hack were arrested in Spain last week (prompting the attack on the police site); Turkey just rounded up 32 or so suspected members of Anonymous. The ringleaders of LulzSec have probably already slipped up enough to leave a trail for the feds to find.
But for every would-be "hacktivist" that gets caught, three more will leap in to fill his or her place. There's no stuffing this genie back into the bottle, so you better get used to it. Your best hope of survival: batten down the hatches, keep your head low, and hope they pick on somebody else instead of you.
This article, "Dial 'h' for 'hacker': LulzSec is the future of the Net," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Track the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.