One arrest in the UK, four in the Netherlands and 16 in the US, as authorities clamp down on Anonymous
A 16-year-old boy was arrested in South London last night and four more suspects were apprehended in the Netherlands as part of a US investigation into the activities of the Anonymous Operation hacktivist group.
In the US, the FBI also searched several homes across the US and arrested 16 suspects as part of a broad investigation into the organisations activities. The suspects are all thought to be accused of organising the distributed denial of service attack that targeted PayPal last December.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the FBI was seeking out individuals “in their late teens and early 20s”. Fox News reported that 30 to 40 search warrants had been issued in the case, resulting in the arrests of the 16 people in “states including Florida, New Jersey and California”. A spokesperson for the FBI’s San Francisco office confirmed that “law enforcement actions” were under way.
Government officials told CBS News that the FBI had made “more than a dozen arrests” as part of its investigation into the Anonymous network.
A Trail Of Cyber-Destruction
For some months, Anonymous has proven a cyber-thorn for a number of companies and government organisations, including the Central Intelligence Agency and biotechnology firm Monsanto, in the latter case siphoning hundreds of pages of documents that allegedly revealed unethical business practices.
The “hacktivist” collective also breached consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and dumped log-in information for some 90,000 military and government personnel, including US CENTCOM, SOCOM, the Marine Corps, Air Force facilities, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State and private-sector contractors.
In response to those attacks, US Senator John McCain requested the establishment of a new subcommittee focused on examining data breaches against federal agencies and contractors, with an eye toward informing and reconciling various drafts of cyber-security legislation.
“I truly believe the only way to ensure the protection of sensitive and valuable information from tampering or dissemination by unauthorised persons is a Select Committee,” he wrote in a letter to the Senate leadership. “With so many agencies and the White House moving forward with cyber-security proposals, we must provide congressional leadership on this pressing issue of national security.”
US Defence Strategy Shaping Up
This month, the Department of Defense (DoD) officially unveiled its strategy for operating in cyberspace, which includes a variety of defensive measures designed to protect DoD systems and infrastructure from attackers. Marine General James Cartwright, vice president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has criticised that plan for focusing too much on defence at the expense of offensive elements.
“If it’s OK to attack me and I’m not going to do anything other than improve my defences every time you attack me, it’s very difficult to come up with a deterrent strategy,” he said in a press briefing before deputy defence secretary William Lynn’s speech at the National Defence University in Washington.
Anonymous is not the only threat to the Pentagon, whose networks are apparently probed millions of times every day by cyber-attackers. In March, an attack against military computers led to 24,000 files being stolen from a defence contractor. Specifically, the intruders targeted information related to missile-tracking systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and the Joint Strike Fighter.