The FBI reportedly raided multiple homes in California, Florida, New Jersey, and New York on Tuesday morning as part of a coordinated nationwide crackdown on the illegal activities of the hacker group known as Anonymous. The residential searches resulted in the seizure of computers, and more than a dozen suspected Anonymous members were arrested, according to news reports.
One recent Twitter posting by the hacker group suggests that at least some members of Anonymous avoided immediate arrest. "We just saw a bunch of party vans driving by -- they did not recognize us," the tweet said. "Sailing off shore again, seeking shiny booty."
It remains to be seen whether Tuesday's raids will have any significant long-term impact on the number of high-profile attacks perpetrated for political and ideological purposes. "Hactivism isn't new, but combined with the rising likelihood of success and the greater damage from successful attacks, we should expect to see it more often," Forrester Research Vice President Jonathan Penn wrote in a recent blog.
The hacker group LulzSec, which currently has more than 333,000 followers on Twitter, generally prefers to project the more playful persona of a group of merry pranksters. By contrast, the principal message enunciated by Anonymous, which has about 122,000 Twitter devotees, reads like pages torn from the script of the movie V: "We do not forgive, we do not forget, unite with us," according to one of the group's latest tweets.
As Tuesday's FBI raids and arrests demonstrate -- together with the 15 suspected Anonymous members busted in Italy and Switzerland earlier this month -- participation in hacker groups isn't without consequences. The problem is that loose-knit organizations like Anonymous and LulzSec, which at times have worked together, have no leaders that law-enforcement officials can target and bring down.
Instead, these and other cyber activist groups rely on the collective power of individual members, which use the Internet to communicate, advertise and coordinate their computer crimes, noted Gordon Snow, assistant director of the FBI's cyber division. Moreover, each new hacker success story reported by the media brings newcomers to the antigovernment messages espoused by both groups.
For example, Anonymous claimed responsibility for launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks last year against multiple organizations, including MasterCard and Visa web sites. The group's goal was to protest the decision by credit-card companies to cease processing donations to WikiLeaks, which posted U.S. State Department documents.
However, facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Moreover, perpetrators of such crimes also potentially face significant civil liabilities. So, just as in the past, the FBI is likely to use Tuesday's success to remind hackers "of the consequences of treating criminal activity as a competitive sport," noted U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman last month.
We can also expect the FBI to continue working closely with law-enforcement partners in the U.K. and elsewhere to mitigate the threats posed by Anonymous and other hactivist groups. Authorities in the Netherlands, Germany and France have also undertaken their own investigative and enforcement actions, the FBI said earlier this year.
Posted: 2011-09-11 @ 12:15pm PT
These hackers are just like Al-Qeada, a few idiots with a bunch of sheep like followers.