Top stories of 2011: The year in technology

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the rise of hacktivism

The PlayStation Network hack, Anonymous and the rise of hacktivism

April attacks on Sony's PlayStation and Qriocity networks knocked out service for millions of users for two months, compromised personal data of some 70 million subscribers and cost Sony $170 million to clean up. The attacks were partly in retaliation against Sony's response to the release of code for its PS3 console that let the device run unauthorized software. Though it's unclear whether members of Anonymous or an affiliated hacker group, LulzSec, were responsible, the stakes have been raised for politically motivated hacking, or hacktivism. Anonymous, the most high-profile hactivist group, this year claimed or was believed to have launched attacks against entities as disparate as security firm HBGary, child-porn sites, Koch Industries, Bank of America, NATO and various government websites. LulzSec, Peoples Liberation and TeaMp0isoN are among the the groups claiming affiliation with the Anonymous collective. Though police have made arrests in the U.S., the U.K., Spain and elsewhere, the success of high-profile hacks has assured that politically oriented hacking is here to stay.

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