Though it is the larger examples of cyber warfare likely created by nation-states that capture the headlines, there are a great number of civilian hackers to attack governments as well. Researchers at Michigan State University decided to examine these people, to try to determine why civilians will become cyber warriors against a government.
The study used a sample of 357 university students, with 11% being international students from about 30 countries. These subjects were surveyed as to what they would do about an oppressive government and of them over 77% said they would post about the oppression on Facebook and 62% said they would participate in a physical protest. A considerably smaller 13% would actually deface a government website and 10% would comprise a government server, in order to protest. Those willing to participate in the cyber-attacks are not motivated by their attitude or general outlook of their government. This group however is inclined to download pirated music, movies, and other media and participate in the physical protests.
This study shows that the actual reason for civilian cyber-warfare against a government is not as simple as some may think. The researchers speculate it could be for an altruistic belief in treating groups equally that drives these attacks. (Personally I think the reason is less noble and based on ability and gratification. Instead of being a face in a crowd, a cyber-attack, like pirating media, can add a personal sense of accomplishment by 'beating the system,' but that is just my opinion.)