The KKK has become the hacktivist group's latest target after they threatened violence against protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.
People in Anonymous masks at a Ferguson protest. Image: Steven Sweetleaf/Flickr
Hacktivist collective Anonymous has kicked off OpKKK, a campaign to disrupt websites and expose information of the Ku Klux Klan, after members of the hate group disseminated leaflets in Missouri threatening "lethal force" against Ferguson protesters. Anonymous has compromised KKK Twitter accounts, knocked websites offline, and claims to have grabbed personal information of members of the group.
In their propaganda, the Traditionalist American Knights of the KKK said Ferguson demonstrators were terrorists masquerading as peaceful protesters and they would face consequences for "actions against the peaceful, law abiding citizens of Missouri."
Though Anonymous said in a YouTube video that it respected the KKK's right to free speech, it decided the group had overstepped the mark by threatening physical violence, especially in light of the racial tensions in Ferguson, where African American teenager Michael Brown was shot by police officer Darren Wilson, leading to much-publicised protests.
OpKKK appears to be working alongside OpFerguson, which was launched shortly after Brown's death. OpFerguson demanded safeguards on police conduct in the US, threatening to expose information on the Ferguson Police Department if they responded to protests with violence. The OpFerguson Twitter account has been promoting the OpKKK attacks over the last few days.
The hacktivist crew hit a range of KKK websites over the weekend through to today, including kkk.com, unskkkk.com and traditionalistamericanknights.com, with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Those sites were intermittently down today. At least two Twitter accounts have also been compromised: @KluKluxKlanUSA and @YourKKKCentral.
Whilst the DDoS and Twitter attacks appear to have been successful in their aims, it's less clear what data Anonymous has managed to acquire on its targets. The owner of the @OperationKKK Twitter account claimed in direct messages over Twitter to have gathered personal information on members of the site, though they wouldn't say how this was done.
One data dump seen by Motherboard, which was linked on an IRC chat group run by the OpKKK team, showed little more than a handful of email addresses of alleged KKK members. The YouTube video, originally posted by the Australian branch of Anonymous, shows some social media profiles and other personal data of apparent KKK supporters.
The OpKKK Twitter user told me that information was still being gathered and confirmed. "The data is currently classified as we are trying to make sure all information is 100% accurate before being published elsewhere," they said. "The KKK claims that they are not scared, but after the video was released, their details and private information was changed."
"The data we have managed to get so far include KKK members facebook accounts, email accounts, twitter users, etc."
They said that new information would be released over the next 24 hours. The hope is that by exposing identities of KKK members and taking their sites offline, the KKK will stop threatening physical force against protesters. The OpKKK Twitter user said the attacks would stop "when the people of Ferguson receive freedom and are able to protest peacefully without threats or being harmed by organisations such as the KKK."
A verdict on the shooting of Brown is expected this week.