Internet “hacktivist” group Anonymous was the target of a bevy of early morning raids conducted at homes in Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio. FBI agents used search warrants to obtain computers and other electronics from the residences and arrested a total of 16 individuals with ages ranging from teens all the way to early 40s. Along with legal names, the indictment also notes screen names and internet monikers used by the group to communicate anonymously.
These arrests were just part of a total of 35 search warrants which were executed today as part of the ongoing investigation into the security-threatening hacking activities of the Anonymous collective. Among its various exploits, the brigade of cyber spies has been implicated in attacks on everyone from Sony to the federal government. The group has also executed web-based attacks on major credit card companies including Mastercard and Visa.
According to a press release from the Department of Justice, today’s arrests focused primarily on Anonymous members who waged a cyber war on PayPal. Anonymous was allegedly inspired to hack the online payment company in “Operation Avenge Assange” after Paypal refused to accept donations for Wikileaks, the well-known whistleblower site headed by Julian Assange.
Anonymous’ hacker cohorts, LulzSec, have taken aim at the CIA, as well as the Arizona Police Department in an effort to expose racial discrimination. Yesterday, LulzSec took credit for an attack on Rupert Murdoch’s U.K. tabloid The Sun. A website redirect sent readers to a fake Sun page announcing the embattled media mogul’s death from a drug overdose.
Murdoch’s media empire has come under fierce scrutiny after it was revealed that journalists at the News of the World tabloid hacked into the voicemail accounts of prominent U.K. citizens. In addition to assailing one of the News Corp. sites head-on, LulzSec also claims to have a bounty of sensitive emails that will shed further light on the organization’s less-than-honest tactics.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether any of today’s arrests also included members of LulzSec, but the group’s Twitter feed appears to be as lively as ever. Today’s actions clearly show that the federal government is no longer content to sit by while hackers have their run of the internet, but it’s likely that Anonymous will respond in short order.
SOURCE: Yahoo News