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PESTEL Analysis of Hacktivism Campaign Motivations

Part of the Lecture Notes in Computer Science book series (LNSC,volume 11252)


A political, economic, socio-cultural, technological, environment and legal (PESTEL) analysis is a framework or tool used to analyse and monitor the macro-environmental factors that have an impact on an organisation. The results identify threats and weaknesses which are used in a strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis. In this paper the PESTEL framework was utilized to categorize hacktivism motivations for attack campaigns against certain companies, governments or industries. Our study is based on empirical evidence: of thirty-three hacktivism attack campaigns in manifesto level. Then, the targets of these campaigns were analysed and studied accordingly. As a result, we claim that connecting cyberattacks to motivations permits organizations to determine their external cyberattack risks, allowing them to perform more accurate risk-modeling.


  • PESTEL analysis
  • Security
  • Online anonymity
  • Hacktivism
  • Cyberattack
  • Political activism
  • Strategic management
  • Risk modeling

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Correspondence to Juha Nurmi .

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A Discussion Channels Within the Tor Anonymity Network are used to Coordinate DDoS Attacks

Fig. 7.
figure 7

An example of anonymous onion website that shares a tutorial to connect IRC channels. These services operate inside the Tor anonymity network.

B Hacktivist Campaigns, Motivations and Targets

Table 1. An approximated timeline of hacktivist campaigns. Thirty-three cases were examined for motivation and targets. The main target sectors and countries are listed here. The number of targets refers to unique sites and online services which were attacked during the campaign. Anon. represents Anonymous, CyFi represents Cyber Fighters of Izz ad-Din al Qassam, and NWH represents New World Hackers. Please note that timeline is not clear because many campaigns failed to start or were re-launched several times. The main target sectors and countries are listed here. Finally, there are categories of motivation under the PESTEL framework. Note that several campaigns could intuitively fit under more than one category. We selected the main category.

C OpBahrain Manifesto by the Anonymous Hacktivist Group

Fig. 8.
figure 8

A manifesto of a hacktivist campaign. Anonymous published this manifesto before it launched “OpBahrain” attacks against the Bahrainian government. The manifesto describes clear motivation for the attacks.

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Nurmi, J., Niemelä, M.S. (2018). PESTEL Analysis of Hacktivism Campaign Motivations. In: Gruschka, N. (eds) Secure IT Systems. NordSec 2018. Lecture Notes in Computer Science(), vol 11252. Springer, Cham.

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