Cyber Sit-ins, cyber protests and other forms of demonstration have grown year after year and are now considered formidable method of protests.

How to respond to those new forms of protests, amid other cybersecurity threats, has become a challenge around the world for government elections, politicians, corporations, law enforcement organizations all of which have experienced the wrath of those who oppose their actions.

Web site defacement and distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks are the primary tools that are used to express the displeasure of those protesting, but they are part of a broader trend towards hacktivism, which takes cyber protests to a heightened level and made a growing issue.

A recent cybersecurity report, issued by Verizon, disclosed that 58% of all data stolen in 2011 was due to hacktivism.

Reading the report it is clear that the frequency of acts of hacktivism is at an all time high. You have to admit hacktivism has received a substantial amount of media attention and that is one fact that has driven the hacktivists’ social message.

As the chart above, from the Technolytics 2012 Cyber SiteRep shows, the threat intensity trend for hacktivism has risen dramatically.

Hacktivism has really redefined civil disobedience and is a part of modern techno-culture. The growth and success rate of hacktivist activities have become a significant security issue for many organizations around the world.

So much so it became a point of discussed at RSA (see video), the premiere security conference and security experts believe we have reached a tipping point.

As the Verizon report notes, what troubles many about hactivism is its shadowy nature and the proclivity to embarrass victims, which makes this trend more frightening than other threats, whether real or imagined. Enemies, the report says, are even scarier when you can’t predict their behavior.

What that means is anyone’s guess, but one thing is certain, highly active groups within the hacktivist movement have prompted intelligence organizations and other federal agencies to express concern and include it in their programs to address the growth in extremism within the United States.

Kevin G. Coleman is a long-time security technology executive and former Chief Strategist at Netscape. He is Senior Fellow with the Technolytics Institute where he provides consulting services on strategic technology and security issues. He writes a weekly blog for Breaking Gov on the topic of cyber intelligence.