Anonymous isn’t truly an organization; not in any traditional sense. They are a large, decentralized group of individuals who share common interests and web haunts. There are no official members, guidelines, leaders, representatives or unifying principles. Rather, Anonymous is a word that identifies the millions of people, groups, and individuals on and off of the internet who, without disclosing their identities, express diverse opinions on many topics.
Being "Anonymous" is much more a quality or a self-definition than a membership. Each project under the Anonymous banner may have a whole different set of instigators. Leadership, when it exists, is informal and carried out in chat channels, forums, IM and public calls to action online. No one's meeting in a board room.
The name Anonymous itself is inspired by the perceived anonymity under which users post images and comments on the Internet. Usage of the term Anonymous in the sense of a shared identity began on imageboards.
Origin of Anonymous
They are loosely affiliated with 4chan and other smaller "chan" boards (like 7chan, 2chan and 711chan) due to these sites' anonymous posting feature, which allows them to plan attacks without revealing any identifying information.
A tag of Anonymous is assigned to visitors who leave comments without identifying the originator of the posted content. Users of imageboards sometimes jokingly acted as if Anonymous were a real person. As the popularity of imageboards increased, the idea of Anonymous as a collective of unnamed individuals became an internet meme.
They coordinate raids on forums like 4chan.org and ICQ chat rooms, among other venues. 4chan.org is a major hub, but I wouldn’t call it Anonymous’ home. Anonops.net was as close to an HQ as they had, but it has been shut down.
Some claim Anonymous to be the first internet-based superconsciousness. Anonymous is a group, in the sense that a flock of birds is a group. How do you know they're a group? Because they're travelling in the same direction. At any given moment, more birds could join, leave, peel off in another direction entirely.
Anonymous doesn't like to be called a 'group'. And much less do its members like to be called 'hackers'. They are, to use the manifesto's excitable, sci-fi-tinged terminology, an "Online Living Consciousness"
They have been described as a leaderless, anarchic group of "hacktivists" but inside Anonymous, some have found that the organization is more hierarchical – with a hidden cabal of around a dozen highly skilled hackers coordinating attacks across the web.
One member said the group's "command and control" centers are invite-only, adding: "It's to protect people, but if you have proven trustworthy you get invited – it's not hard to do. It's not some elitist structure but a way to keep the press and the odd bit of law enforcement seeing who issues commands."
"Our project has no leader structure, only different roles. The degree of leadership and organization in the various projects various a lot," one long-term insider explained. "It's all very chaotic, but we communicate and co-operate with each other. I see us as different cells of the same organism."
The leaders of the group use internet relay chat (IRC) technology, which can allow groups of people to communicate clandestinely. Some in the upper echelons are understood to have control over "botnets" comprising more than 1,000 Windows PCs that have been infected with a virus and can be controlled without the user's knowledge to direct "distributed denial of service" (DDoS) attacks against target organizations.