The hacking collective Anonymous has targeted Nissan in its ongoing fight against the killing of whales and dolphins in Japan.
Anonymous took responsibility on Wednesday for hacking and ultimately taking down two Japanese Nissan sites as part of its OpWhales campaign. Like previous attacks, the hacking collective took responsibility on Twitter (twtr), with one alleged member calling on Japan to "stop the killing now." Other Anonymous-backed accounts called the hacks "punishment" for Japan's whale and dolphin killings.
Anonymous has long been a hacking force on the Internet. The group is a loose collective of individuals that work together on topics that they care about. Anonymous has hacked government institutions, local municipalities, companies, media outlets, and more.
Although some law-enforcement agencies have attempted to target Anonymous, breaking into the collective has been exceedingly impossible. The group works through encrypted channels to assign targets and there is a loose affiliation among members. Indeed, the hackers may come and go and decide to participate in attacks only if they feel strongly about the focus area.
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Most recently, Anonymous has waged a war on ISIS following the devastating attacks on Paris and San Bernardino last year. The group has claimed responsibility for taking down a slew of ISIS-supporting Twitter accounts, as well as revealing e-mail addresses and channels on encrypted-messaging app Telegram, where alleged ISIS members were communicating.
While it's unknown how big Anonymous actually is, the collective has the ability to take on multiple "operations" at once. Indeed, the collective has been working on the OpWhales campaign for several weeks, targeting hundreds of Japanese websites in defense of whales and dolphins.
Because Anonymous believes that it's acting in the best interests of the public, it's often been a topic of debate. The group's activities are supported by those who say that it's using cyber means to protest against inequality, injustice, and other threats around the world. Critics, however, say that the group is a vigilante acting in its own interest and engaging in illegal activity.
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Whatever the case, Anonymous is showing no signs of slowing down. Indeed, the group's slogan of being "legion" is one that has held up for the last several years.
Exactly why it targeted Nissan, however, may not be immediately clear. The car maker has not engaged in any whale or dolphin killing. However, the attack does coincide with the Detroit Auto Show, where Nissan featured prominently. It's also one of the largest companies in Japan, which makes a hack on its sites all the more notable.
In a statement to the BBC, a person claiming to be an Anonymous member says that the attack on Nissan was part of a broader push by Anonymous to attack "big corporations." Attacking big corporations, the member says, will help to "spread awareness about the killing [of dolphins]" in the Taiji cove. He added that the Japanese media is "censoring" its coverage.
For now, the U.S. Nissan website is not believed to have been affected. In the interview with the BBC, the Anonymous member said that the collective has no interest in attacking the company's "customer data or system data."
Nissan did not immediately respond to a request for comment.