Anonymous has played down the significance of the arrested suspects in Italy and Switzerland
Authorities continue their pursuit of Anonymous with a spate of arrests in both Italy and Switzerland.
However the hacktivist group has played down the significance of those arrested.
On Tuesday various media outlets reported that Italian authorities had raided a hacker cell with links to Anonymous. Police apparently conducted 31 raids across Italy and one in Switzerland.
This resulted in the arrests of 15 people – five of them are reportedly minors. The arrested suspects are said to be between 15 and 28 years old.
However it seems that the authorities are also claiming to have arrested one of the leaders of the hacking cell, a 26-year-old Swiss-Italian known as “Phre”.
It seems this cell is allegedly responsible for carrying out denial-of-service cyber attacks on a number of private and government institutions, including the Italian Senate and the central government, and on Monday against AGCOM, the Italian national communications regulatory body.
Private organisations that were allegedly hit by this hacker cell included energy giants ENEL and ENI, state broadcaster RAI, and Mediaset – Italy’s largest commercial broadcaster.
Italian police are said to be continuing their search for a further 30 suspects.
However Anonymous used its blog to deny media claims that the operations of Anonymous in Italy had been crippled by the arrests.
“A few hours ago, the Italian police announced complaints, arrests and raids against a number of members of Italian anonymous,” said Anonymous. “The media has spread the news that the entire Italian network of anonymous has been dismantled and the ‘leaders’ of Italian anonymous was arrested.
“Anonymous denies these media reports and reiterates that this is impossible: Anonymous is not been dismantled. Anonymous has no leaders, no structure,” said the hacktivists. “All anonymous members operate at the same level. Those arrested are not ‘dangerous hackers’ as the media calls them, but people like you. They have been arrested while peacefully protesting for there and your rights. Our protest will continue louder than ever.”
And it issued a stark warning.
“The Italian Anonymous have not fallen because of this cowardly attempt to dismantle them and announce consequences for there actions taken by the police, to demonstrate that anonymous is present and fights on, like it did in the past and will in the future, for the freedom of the internet,” it said. “Italy anonymous calls all citizens of the internet and the international anonymous: We need you! Let them have it, stronger than ever.”
And authorities should be prepared for a backlash. In June for example the website of the Spanish police force was knocked offline by Anonymous, following the arrest of three alleged members of the group.
Authorities are desperately trying to rein in the growing number of cyber attacks in the past few months. In January the British police arrested five Anonymous suspects, having investigated the group for some time. The FBI meanwhile has issued forty arrest warrants.
Last month also saw the arrest of 32 suspects in Turkey believed to be linked to Anonymous, following an online protest against the country’s proposal for Internet filters.
More recently British police arrested a 19-year-old man in Essex who was allegedly connected with the Lulzsec hacktivist group.