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Many of us vaguely remember the word “hacktivism” from a decade ago. This was a time before serious ransomware attacks dominated current cybersecurity concerns, when certain hacking techniques were being used to send political messages to governmental and corporate entities.

Hacktivism has since retreated as a form of protest, in part due to the prosecution of prominent hacktivists, sometimes with what appear to be disproportionately severe sentences. But with the ongoing pandemic restricting physical protests globally, and new bills being drawn up to curb offline protest, it looks as if hacktivism may be set for a return.

My research into hacktivism and cybercrime helps place hacktivism in its historical context – from which we can understand how, where and why hackers may soon resort once again to digital protest across the world.

Hacktivism may have reached its peak a decade ago, but it’s been a feature of online activism since the early popularisation of the internet. Major hacktivist groups, such as the Electronic Disturbance Theater, the Electrohippies and Hacktivismo, were already active in the late 1990s. At the time, they supported the Zapatista movement in Mexico, protested global wealth inequality and flagged security issues in popular software.

Even traditional activist groups – such as Greenpeace and the German anti-racist collective Kein Mensch ist illegal – were known to use hacktivist protest tactics long before its rise to global prominence.

In fact, Kein Mensch ist illegal led a “collective blockade” of Lufthansa’s website in 2001 to protest the airline’s cooperation with the German government’s deportation policies. A Frankfurt Appeals court would eventually rule that this hacktivist activity amounted to freedom of expression – not criminal activity – but this legal precedent was not followed by courts elsewhere.

Hacktivism’s heyday

Hacktivism began attracting global attention when Anonymous – a loose collective of hackers, politicized internet users, trolls and pranksters – decided to focus on political issues. The collective targeted the Church of Scientology for censoring online content in 2008, and mobilized to protect whistleblower websites such as WikiLeaks in 2010, among various other actions with national and international implications. The activities of Anonymous would eventually lead major cybersecurity companies to characterize 2011 as the “year of the hacktivist”.

Soon, hacktivist groups were springing up across the world. Anonymous itself sported many national branches, and these groups contributed to common political struggles at the same time as weighing in during local uprisings. For instance, Anonymous took down dozens of the Egyptian government’s websites in 2012 during the Arab Spring protests.

This explosion in hacktivist activity did not go unpunished, despite the hacktivist claim that online protest is as valid as offline protest. Some hacktivists were found to violate cybercrime laws, such as the UK’s Computer Misuse Act 1990, and various protesters were prosecuted and convicted in the UK and the US.

Perhaps the most high-profile prosecution was that of the American internet wonder-kid Aaron Swartz, who’d bypassed university cybersecurity safeguards in an attempt to download and make public an entire database of academic papers. Swartz died by suicide in the lead up to his trial, bringing US cybercrime laws and their aggressive enforcement into question.

Nevertheless, cybercrime laws have only intensified in the years since, forcing hacktivists into a retreat. But their tactics remain effective and, given that the pandemic has restricted our capability to conduct physical protests worldwide, hacktivism could soon be redeployed as an alternative way of expressing dissent in the post-COVID era.

Hacktivist tactics

Traditionally, hacktivists have tried to mimic offline forms of protest and civil disobedience, but in the online space. They’ve used website defacements, often called “internet graffiti”, to scrawl political messages on targeted websites. And denial of service (DoS) attacks, which are designed to overwhelm a website with traffic in order to make it crash, are also common. Hacktivists often call these virtual sit-ins.

In contrast to internet graffiti, which can be facilitated by a single skilled hacker, virtual sit-ins require mass participation. That makes these protests far more democratically legitimate and impactful – as well as sharing the criminal liability among the virtual protesters.

I’ve highlighted the positive aspects of these tactics in my research, praising how they bring citizen dissent into the online environment while globalizing important political causes. But virtual sit-ins also have financial implications for the attacked organisations and systems. Meanwhile, some commentators have criticized hacktivism as a form of empty “slacktivism” which they say isn’t comparable to the political conscientiousness and resolution of street protests.

Although hacktivism in principle is all about promoting socially beneficial causes while minimizing harms, it can also become muddled with a less justifiable vigilantist rationale. For example, Anonymous members have in the past exposed the personal details of individuals such as police officers, which puts them and their families at risk. Meanwhile, the hacktivist group Lulzsec has been known to target big organisations for the sake of the challenge, rather than for a political purpose. Finally, nationalist hacktivists have historically been involved in cross-border hacker wars which has, in some cases, escalated into real-world violence.

Hacktivism’s revival?

Irrespective of these criticisms, one can’t help but think that in the new post-pandemic era, with all of us spending much more time online, these political tactics could become popular again across the political spectrum. In fact, there have already been activities that indicate hacktivism may be becoming a side-tactic for groups such as Extinction Rebellion, which has been reconsidering its future tactics in light of restrictions and preemptive arrests.

Hacktivism never went away entirely. Anonymous did in fact reemerge during the summer 2020 Black Lives Matter protests, targeting police forces’ websites with hacks. But we’re still in a transitional period, with organised hacktivist efforts far less common than they were a decade ago.

Yet the stage seems set for a third wave of hacktivism. New protest movements are gradually gaining traction with the public, and hacktivist activity could make for a popular alternative to in-person civil disobedience in a period when many of us are still concerned about COVID-19 transmission.

As environmental and anti-discrimination movements grow internationally, and their underlying goals unite citizens on a global scale, it’ll be fascinating to see whether hacktivist tactics can seriously contribute to galvanizing change in an increasingly politicized world.The Conversation

This article by Vasileios Karagiannopoulos, Reader in Cybercrime and Cybersecurity, University of Portsmouth, is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Naabiae Nenu-B is a Medical Health Student and an SEO Specialist dedicated to flushing the web off fake news and scam scandals. He aims at being "Africa's Best Leak and Review Blogger" and that's the unwavering stand of Xycinews Media.

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Technology

iOS 14.7.1 now available with fix for Apple Watch unlock bug

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Apple rolled out iOS 14.7.1 to the public on Monday — exactly one week after iOS 14.7 debuted. This is a minor update that addresses a bug that was introduced in iOS 14.7. As Apple noted, iOS 14.7 “affects the ability of iPhone models with Touch ID to unlock Apple Watch.” Once the update has been applied, this issue should be resolved, and everything should unlock correctly.

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Which devices work with iOS 14.7.1?

If you’re wondering whether or not your device is compatible with iOS 14.7.1 or iPadOS 14.7.1, here’s a full list below with every compatible device. If your device is there, you’re good to go:

  • iPhone 12
  • iPhone 12 mini
  • iPhone 12 Pro
  • iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • iPhone 11
  • iPhone 11 Pro
  • iPhone 11 Pro Max
  • iPhone XS
  • iPhone XS Max
  • iPhone XR
  • iPhone X
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone SE (1st generation)
  • iPhone SE (2nd generation)
  • iPod touch (7th generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (4th generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation)
  • iPad Pro 11-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (2nd generation)
  • iPad Pro 12.9-inch (1st generation)
  • iPad Pro 10.5-inch
  • iPad Pro 9.7-inch
  • iPad (7th generation)
  • iPad (6th generation)
  • iPad (5th generation)
  • iPad mini (5th generation)
  • iPad mini 4
  • iPad Air (3rd generation)
  • iPad Air 2

Here is Apple’s full list of release notes for iOS 14.7:

  • MagSafe Battery Pack support for iPhone 12, iPhone 12 mini, iPhone 12 Pro and iPhone 12 Pro Max
  • Apple Card Family adds the option to combine credit limits and share one co-owned account with an existing Apple Card user
  • Home app adds the ability to manage timers on HomePod
  • Air quality information is now available in Weather and Maps for Canada, France, Italy, Netherlands, South Korea, and Spain
  • Podcasts library allows you to choose to see all shows or only followed shows
  • Share playlist menu option missing in Apple Music
  • Dolby Atmos and Apple Music lossless audio playback may unexpectedly stop
  • Battery service message that may have disappeared after reboot on some iPhone 11 models is restored
  • Braille displays could show invalid information while composing Mail messages

How to download and install iOS 14.7.1

Installing a new update on your iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is an incredibly simple process. Navigate to Settings > General > Software Update and then tap “Download and Install” at the bottom of that page. If you prefer, you can also install the update through iTunes by connecting your iOS device to a computer. Whichever method you choose, just make sure to back up your device before installing an update so that you don’t risk losing any of your data during the procedure.

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This pro-grade 4K camera drone is $430 at Amazon, and it beats $800+ rivals

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If you purchase an independently reviewed product or service through a link on
our website, we may receive an affiliate commission.

Do you want a professional-grade quadcopter drone from a big-name brand? Sadly, it can easily set you back $1,000 or even more. At best, you’re going to spend $800 if you want decent features and a 3-axis gimbal. That’s one of several reasons why we’re such big fans of the Potensic Dreamer Pro. It’s a relatively new model from a popular brand with a 4K camera and a 3-axis gimbal. Plus, it can easily go toe-to-toe with drones in the $800-$1,000+ range. But instead of having to pay $1,000 or more, this quadcopter retails for a fraction of that sky-high price.

That’s especially true right now, thanks to a surprisingly good deal you can take advantage of for a limited time. Amazon has a coupon you can clip today that will slash the Dreamer Pro from $460 to $429.99. That’s about half what you’ll pay for a comparable drone from the top brand in the quadcopter market. How awesome is that?!

Anyone who knows anything at all about drones can probably name the go-to pro-grade quadcopter drone for amateurs and professionals on a budget. You also know that it costs $800 minimum. It’s a high-quality quadcopter with pretty much all the key features you need. That includes a 4K camera that captures stunning video. Plus, you get a 3-axis gimbal that stabilizes video and still images captured during flight. On top of that, intelligent software and flight features round out the experience.

It should go without saying that not everyone has an extra $800 lying around. Especially not that they’re willing to spend on a drone, no matter how great it is. If you’re looking for a terrific alternative that checks all the same main boxes for much less money, you’ve definitely come to the right place.

Potensic’s Dreamer Pro offers professional-grade quality and features at a fraction of what you’d pay for a comparable model from other companies. You get 28 minutes of flight time per charge, plus a stunning 4K camera with a high-quality Sony sensor. Additionally, you’ll get a 3-axis gimbal for outstanding video and image stabilization. On top of all that, the Dreamer Pro is packed full of smart features that will help with any content you might be shooting. One example is a “follow me” mode that tracks moving objects and people. There’s also a circle mode that flies in a perfect circle around any center point. Path mode lets you draw out a flight pattern the drone will fly on its own. Also, this drone has an impressive 2-kilometer transmission range and so much more.

This excellent Potensic drone is absolutely on par with the market leader and other quadcopters that fall into the $800 – $1,200 price range, yet the Potensic Dreamer Pro 4K camera drone with 3-axis gimbal retails for just $460. That’s about half the price of comparable models from leading brands. Head over to Amazon and pick one up now, however, and you can save an extra $30 thanks to the clippable coupon. You definitely don’t want to miss out on this great deal.

Potensic Dreamer Pro 4K camera drone with 3-axis gimbal Price:$429.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Here are the main takeaways you need to know about:

  • The 4K camera with a 1/3-inch SONY CMOS sensor and the 3-axis gimbal combine capture stunning video that is stable and free from shakes and jitters
  • Capture and record aerial footage or stream live to your smartphone with a transmission range of up to 1.24 miles
  • Potensic’s exclusive PowerAC dynamic system creates bursts of 3x power that are great for tricks
  • Advanced stabilization system makes it easy to fly smoothly in still conditions or with a light breeze
  • Includes a 32GB SD card and a special carrying case

Potensic Dreamer Pro 4K camera drone with 3-axis gimbal Price:$429.99 Buy Now Available from Amazon, BGR may receive a commission

Go here to see this month’s best deals on Amazon!


Follow @BGRDeals on Twitter to keep up with the latest and greatest deals we find around the web. Prices subject to change without notice and any coupons mentioned above may be available in limited supply.

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This stimulus program gets you up to $25,000, but no one seems to know about it

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One of many extraordinary steps the federal government took to combat the coronavirus pandemic, in addition to approving billions of dollars in direct cash payments to Americans, was a temporary ban on the eviction of renters. Additionally, more than one emergency coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress included billions in stimulus rental assistance. Unfortunately, though, there’s evidence that enough Americans still don’t seem to be aware of that fact.

For example, both the stimulus bill that President Biden signed in March and the one President Trump signed in December set aside a total of $46.6 billion in emergency rental assistance stimulus aid. However, a mere $1.5 billion of that was reportedly paid out in June. The stimulus checks certainly have sky-high awareness among members of the public. But let’s take a closer look at this effort which too few people still seem to know about.

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Stimulus rental assistance

First, we should note that the national ban on evictions is set to end on July 31. Meaning, they can resume as normal after that.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition maintains a list of a few hundred rental assistance programs around the country that can help get a chunk of the federal rental assistance stimulus money to people who need it. Generally, you have to be a renter who’s having a hard time paying your rent and/or your utility bills because of the pandemic. Perhaps, for example, the pandemic caused you to lose your job.

The way this funding is supposed to work is that it’s distributed to people in need by over 400 local and state agencies. The problem, however, is that while the problem may be uniform, the response isn’t. For example, all of those agencies in charge of parceling out the stimulus rental assistance have different technology. Many of them also have different staffing levels.

And it’s not clear who ought to be doing a better job of alerting renters to the aid that’s available. Although, what is clear is that someone needs to do so. Because it’s not happening really at all at the moment. Per the Census Bureau, around 7 million households were behind on their rent as of late May. But between April and June, only 550,000 people had received any of this stimulus rental aid.

Additional details

“There is still much further work to do to ensure tenants and landlords take advantage of the historic funding available to help cover rent, utilities, and other housing costs and keep people in their homes,” the US Treasury department said in a recent news release.

Here are some examples of the kind of stimulus rental assistance that’s available. Be aware that things are pretty different from one state to the next. And your local or state housing agency should be consulted from benefits that apply in your area. In Illinois, the state’s Housing Developing Authority is overseeing the administration of $1.5 billion in rental assistance. There, tenants and landlords can apply for grants of up to $25,000 to cover as many as 15 months of rent payments between June of last year through August of this year.

Texas, meanwhile, has been offering help with unpaid rent and utilities going as far back as March 13, 2020. Use the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s website to start a search for the housing authority nearest you. That’s where you’ll apply for this funding.

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