United, if at all, by a taste for shock humor and disdain for authority, this leaderless Internet hive brain is plundering and playing in the electronic networks of an ever shifting enemies list: Arab dictatorships, the Vatican, banking and entertainment firms, the FBI and CIA, the security firm Stratfor and even San Francisco's BART transport system. Did Anonymous fix the TIME 100 poll? "Depends who you think is smarter, a global collective of highly skilled hackers or the TIME IT department," says one fellow traveler, anonymously. Anonymous earned its place on the list, one way or the other.
Gellman is a contributing editor-at-large for TIME and the author of Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency