FBI arrests more than a dozen in Anonymous hacking investigation
Authorities have arrested more than a dozen people today in the United States in connection with hacking attacks by the Anonymous group of online activists, sources said.
The arrests follow raids earlier in the day on homes in New York, California, New Jersey, and Florida, a law enforcement official told CBS News.
Fourteen arrests were listed in one indictment, including arrests out of San Francisco, and two other separate arrests were made in New Jersey and Florida, following raids related to between 30 to 40 search warrants, Fox News reported.
Details were not immediately available on the arrests, which a U.S. government official told CBS News about and another source confirmed to CNET. An FBI spokesman in San Francisco confirmed that "the FBI is part of a nationwide investigation" into hacking, but said he could not comment further. A spokesman with the U.S. Department of Justice in San Francisco said he could neither confirm nor deny reports of the arrests.
The decentralized Anonymous collective has been targeting computer attacks on government and corporate Web sites, including Monsanto, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the City of Orlando, Sony, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, as well as government sites in Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia. (See our chart of recent hacking attacks here.) Anonymous often issues warnings and statements saying the attacks are done to protest Internet censorship and alleged government corruption or corporate malfeasance.
The hackers primarily use distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which are designed to temporarily cripple Web sites. To do that, they enlist supporters to use software on their computers that sends so many requests to access a target Web site that it overwhelms the site with traffic, effectively shutting it down.
There have been dozens of arrests globally related to the investigations into hacking attacks by Anonymous, but it's unclear if any key players in the group were arrested. A 16-year-old was arrested late last year in the Netherlands for the DDoS attacks on payment companies that stopped enabling whistleblower site WikiLeaks to receive donations. That was followed by five arrests in the U.K. and 40 search warrants carried out in the U.S. in January. In June, three people were arrested in Spain for an attack on a Spanish government site (a Spanish police site was then attacked in retaliation), and 32 people were arrested in Turkey a few days later.
There has also been police activity related to the LulzSec hacking group, which is believed to be a spinoff of Anonymous, with whom they have joined forces in attacks under the AntiSec banner. Nineteen-year-old Ryan Cleary was arrested and released on bail in June after being charged with participating in attacks on the U.K.'s Serious Organized Crime Agency, an AntiSec target, and other sites. LulzSec members have denied that Cleary is a member of the group, saying that he only hosted one of the group's chat rooms on his Internet Relay Chat server. Also, an Ohio home was reportedly searched in June.
LulzSec, meanwhile, has turned its sights on media mogul Rupert Murdoch, who is embroiled in a phone voice-mail-hacking scandal that led to the closure of his British tabloid The News of the World and prompted the arrest of former editor Rebekah Brooks. The hackers yesterday redirected the home page of The Sun tabloid, also owned by Murdoch, to a fake story claiming Murdoch had died and released purported phone numbers of Murdoch employees and what appeared to be an old e-mail address and password for Brooks. The hacking happened after a former News of the World journalist-turned-whistleblower was found dead.
Updated 1:36 p.m. PT with report of two additional separate arrests from Fox News, and 12:09 p.m. PT with background on Anonymous and previous arrests, FBI San Francisco comment, and LulzSec background, and 11:27 a.m. PT with FBI comment from Washington, D.C.
How many will turn, I wonder.