Is there any group of hackers more outspoken online than Anonymous? The group started the year with a legal bang by backing a White House "We the People" petition arguing that DDoS attacks should be protected as a form of free speech, so that they could be used to protest injustice. However, that attempt to hack the Constitution failed to garner the number of signatures required for a White House response.
But that didn't stop the collective from protesting perceived injustices. Its Operation Last Resort included hacking the US Sentencing Commission website -- which establishes sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts -- to include a game of Asteroids, to protest federal prosecutors having threatened Reddit co-founder Aaron Swartz with a 35-year prison sentence for downloading millions of documents from the JSTOR archive, which helped drive Swartz to commit suicide. The group also defaced a Massachusetts Institute of Technology website to denounce the institution's failure to protest Swartz's prosecution.
As the year progressed, the campaigns continued, with Anonymous channeling mass anger over the 2008 economic crash -- as well as the fact that no Wall Street executives were ever charged with crimes related to it -- by leaking what it said were passwords for 4,000 financial executives. Rebranded as Operation Wall Street, the effort continued, with the hacktivist collective calling on the public to dox (release sensitive documents on) bank executives.
Anonymous continued with attacks against North Korean websites after the country's leadership threatened to restart a nuclear reactor; OpIsrae" attacks against Israeli websites -- taking sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict -- that reportedly fizzled; an OpUSA attack against banks and government agencies that likewise fizzled; and a threatened Guantanamo Bay Naval Base attack that led authorities there to deactivate WiFi and social media.
Meanwhile, Anonymous earned widespread praise in October when its members launched Operation Maryville to highlight the case of two Missouri girls, ages 13 and 14, who were both allegedly raped last year, only to see prosecutors drop charges against one of the girl's alleged attackers. The outcry helped draw attention to the case, leading the state's lieutenant governor to demand that a grand jury investigate.