The Virtual Wars: How Hacktivism Finally Became a Powerful Virtual Weapon

Hacking might not be something you think of very often in terms of major conflicts. The Internet has been around for a relatively small portion of history, but today it represents a serious battleground for many different kinds of conflict, from the petty to the monumental.

This infographic takes a look at how hacking has become a weapon in many kinds of conflict. From governments gathering information on people they perceive as in opposition all the way to types of political speech, hacking and “hacktivism,” are on the rise.

I found it especially interesting that most hackers are located in the United States—66% of them, in fact. It’s becoming such a common thing that I feel like everyone should be aware of it—and aware that it’s a weapon wielded by governments and parties on all sides of conflict. Hacking has evolved far beyond online thieves and fraud: these days it’s a much more complex and versatile thing.

hacktivism infographic


  1. Hacking really has taken on a new role in the past several years. Now governments are using hackers to sabotage enemies and gain inside knowledge. I have a tough time believing the stat about where hackers live though. A talented hacker is going to use various redirects to hide their true location.

  2. I did not know that the Syrian government used a Trojan to hack into the enemy’s computer… good to know. It’s also surprising that China only has about 1% of all the hackers. Maybe it’s because the internet is somewhat censored there.

  3. I thought China was way more involved based on what I’ve heard from the news over the years . But the infographic does indicate it’s based on where the hackers reside. I really shouldn’t be surprised US is 66%. I would be interested to see the statistics on possible government support/participation in hacking (if that’s even possible to know).

    The bit on Anonymous was very interesting. I sort of like what they do, but it makes me nervous — what if there was a group like Anonymous that did not believe in the things I support that, in fact, attacked the things I support. Kind of like when the wrong party dominates congress or the presidency…but at least I have chance to vote that wrong party out every few years.

    FD, I really like these infographics. Chockful of info. Keep up the good work.

  4. You list the first Anonymous operation from 2010, yet the group was active at least two years before then, having launched under the Anonymous name (and using the Guy Fawkes masks for meatspace activism) in 2008 with Operation Chanology, targeting the Church of Scientology. They then took credit for delivering the texts of all the highest level Scientology documents to Wikileaks in 2009.

    I know the infographic is already pretty long and detailed, but omitting the first significant Anonymous Operation seems like as much of an oversight as completely omitting all mention of Lulzsec and their 50 days of Lulz last year.