Anonymous Hackers Mess With MIT Website

The group put a note on the site to honor the anniversary of Aaron Swartz's death.

Members of the group Anonymous, “a very loose and decentralized command structure” of online “hacktivists,” cracked into part of MIT’s website Friday, and left a note to remind the school that they would never forget the death of Aaron Swartz, the Harvard fellow who took his own life after being charged for allegedly stealing from the institute’s online journal archives.

According to an Anonymous affiliate, who goes by the name of “OpLastResort” on Twitter, they tapped into the network to honor Swartz’s legacy. “Operation Last Resort” is the name of the movement created in response to Swartz’s suicide and federal prosecution.

Anonymous left a message on MIT’s Congeneration Project page, saying, “Remember the Day We Fight Back, Remember. Never Forget, We Never Surrender, Expect Us.” It included a picture of the Anonymous symbol used to identify the group.


The image and note were quickly removed from the website.

The hackers used the opportunity to also spread the message about “The Day We Fight Back,” an event being organized for February which will protest NSA surveillance, and calls for increased Internet privacy. “A broad coalition of activist groups, companies, and online platforms will hold a worldwide day of activism in opposition to the NSA’s mass spying regime,” according to a press release about the February 11 protests. “The day of activism was announced on the eve of the anniversary of the tragic passing of activist and technologist Aaron Swartz. The protest is both in his honor and in celebration of the victory over the Stop Online Piracy Act two years ago this month, which he helped spur.”

On January 11, 2013, Swartz, the cofounder of Reddit, hanged himself in his Brooklyn apartment , two years after he was arrested and hit with felony charges for downloading 4 million copyrighted articles from the school’s online archive of academic journals.

Swartz’s father, Bob Swartz, who works at MIT, said the arrest and prosecution, followed by “the endless plea negotiations, discussions of jail, and what jail to go to,” were “like torture” for his 26-year-old son. In an article in the January issue of BostonSwartz detailed the events leading up to his son’s death, and how he feels the institute needs to own up to its role.

This is the third time in as many years that the group behind “Operation Last Resort” has hacked an MIT-affiliated website. The first time came just days after Swartz’s suicide last year, and paid tribute to the internet activist and his work.