Image: Lizard HQ
This week, a big hacking story broke. Hackers going under the name "The Shadow Brokers" claimed to have hacked a group linked to the NSA referred to as "Equation Group."The hackers dumped a bunch of the group's hacking tools and started a (so far not very successful) bitcoin auction to release more files.The story has so far brought up a lot of intriguing developments and theories, but it's also flung two new or previously little-known hacking group names into the limelight. One sounds dark, mysterious, dangerous; the other… not so much.
How do these names fit in with other hacker monikers? Here's our entirely subjective, non-definitive list of hacker names, ranked.28. Our MinePerhaps the least memorable hacking name ever.27. PLA Unit 61398Are we supposed to fear a hacking group that sounds like the serial number of a dishwasher?26. Poodle CorpNot sure if this is supposed to be an ironic thing? Meh.25. Cyber CaliphateNothing much to say about this, really. It has the world "cyber" and a pretty clear reference to ISIS. It does the job—until you realize the group might have actually been a front for Russian hackers. Awkward!24. GCHQGovernment Communications Headquarters. Perhaps the most boring spy name ever.23. Armada CollectiveAny hacker name that can double as a pop band alter-ego is a loser.22. Fancy Bear, Flying Kitten, Putter Panda, and all the other CrowdStrike-assigned namesJust stop it, please.21. FlyHas potential, but disappointed by how it's been used: The hacker doesn't have a superhero cape, or any B-movie animatronics to complete the look.
20. Syrian Electronic ArmyThis could be a many-membered electro band that plays one of those weird afternoon slots at Glastonbury and has a vaguely world peace-style message. So pretty misleading branding.19. Guccifer 2.0We should be really mad that this hacker isn't original enough to pick their own name but we have to remember this is likely just a front for Russian spies—they weren't exactly worried about their hacker street cred.
18. NSAThis still reminds us of a mid-noughties text asking if we were down for an "NSA relationship" after someone posted our number on a "Free S3x" site.17. Phineas Fisher/GammaGroupPRThe common belief is that the person who attacked FinFisher and Hacking Team is extremely talented at hacking. Choosing monikers? Not so much. The hacker themselves said as much, telling us "that's a dumb name."16. God's ApostlesA bit religious for our taste.15. Equation GroupThis is a shit name. This sounds like an uninspired after-school math club.14. Tailored Access Operations (TAO)Given that they're the (once) super-secret NSA elite hacking unit, the name is a bit flat. But at least has a nice mysterious ring to it. We hear it, and it makes us a bit uncomfortable. Mission accomplished, I guess?13. Lizard SquadAt least it comes with some OK artwork.12. Guardians of PeaceSounds like a late 90s Christian rock band, but it actually kind of works for the group that attacked Sony, allegedly in protest of the awful (but hilarious) Seth Rogen and James Franco movie about killing North Korea's Kim Jong-un. In a way, their hack really was about preserving peace—sorta.11. GucciferThis is so ridiculous we actually love it. We first thought it must be a clunky satirical comment on capitalism or something, but apparently no, it's just intended to reference "the style of Gucci and the light of Lucifer." Which, lol.
10. AnonymousThat name. That mask. Those YouTube videos. You don't become the most famous hacking group in the world without good branding. Mission accomplished.9. LulzSecA little bit inside baseball but this perfectly reflected the "I-don't-give-a-shit" spirit of the group, hacking left and right for no apparent reason other than, yes, the lulz—and to make a political statement.8. Team PoisonThis has a nice cartoony ring to it, like Pokémon's Team Rocket. If only they didn't style it TeaMp0isoN like an "edgy" MSN messenger handle.7. Hacking TeamIf anything, it's honest. But given that they became famous for selling their wares to repressive regimes, angering human rights activists in the process, perhaps they should've chosen something a bit stealthier.6. Impact TeamBold. To the point. No messing around. Good name.5. Goatse SecurityEasily the winner of best hacking logo and motto combo ever. If you don't get why their motto "gaping holes exposed" is funny, then google "Goatse," but mind you, it's NSFW.4. Cutting Sword of JusticeAny hacker name that can double as a heavy metal alter-ego is a winner.3. The Shadow BrokersDefinitely one of the coolest hacker names ever. Sounds like the name of a mysterious underground spy gang. Perfect for whoever has the balls to publicly taunt the NSA.2. Cocaine Warriors from PersiaWow, just wow.1. Cult of the Dead CowOminous, dark and mysterious, this should've been the inspiration for all hacking groups that graced cyberspace after the Cult of the Dead Cow, the world's first hacktivist group.