The battle to disrupt the Anonymous
collective is underway. The latest campaign has been directed at Spanish-speaking activists.
Spanish cops arrested
several suspects earlier this week and further arrests followed in South America.
The group now says it wasn't police technical sleuthing that got them but infiltration
of one website used by them.
Interpol, which announced the arrests Tuesday, did not say how it encountered the 25 suspects, who it says were involved in cyberattacks originating from Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain that targeted sites including Colombia’s defense ministry and presidency and Chile’s Endesa electricity company and national library.
Activists encountered in the chat room said some of those arrested belonged to a group of hackers called Sector404 while others were unsophisticated activists who took part in denial-of-service attacks, which overwhelm websites with data requests.
“The GREAT majority of those implicated were people inhabiting the servers of anonworld.info, something that disconcerts us,” said the activist “Skao,” who identified herself as a law student.
In the communique released on its blog, Anonymous Iberoamerica said the 25 were snared not through “intelligence work or informatics strategy” but rather through “the use of spies and informants within the movement.”
The activists said many of those arrested had been careless, leaving digital tracks.
The group subsequently retaliated
with denial of service attacks against Interpol. It will be interesting to follow how Anonymous
reacts to the crackdown. Inevitably members of the organization will be taken down but it may be too loosely organized to be seriously harmed. If anything, Anonymous
has a real advantage in being able to apply insurgency tactics to their online campaign.
The FBI warns
that many businesses aren't taking the hacktivism threat seriously.
The youth of alleged Anonymous hackers, who are often teenagers or in their early twenties, has lead a number of businesses to dismiss the hacking group without taking into account the ramifications of a successful hack, FBI cyber-investigator Eric Strom told the RSA Conference 2012 in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Some businesses and public sector organisations reputations have been damaged by Anonymous exposure of information. For example, law firm ACS-Law, which disastrously accused thousands of people of illegal file-sharing, went out of business after details of people who had allegedly illegally accessed pornography were exposed during an Anonymous hack. ACS-Law was later fined £1000 by the Information Commissioner's Office for the exposure of personal information.
Anonymous is an amorphous group whose goals reflected its differing membership, said academic and journalist Mischa Glenny, who was appearing in a panel discussion with Strom.
"We have a real problem here in trying to identify what is genuine idealism, what is criminality, what is a sort of anarchic attitude to the internet, and what is a cover for piracy and other intellectual copyright issues," said Glenny.
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