What started with police action in Spain last month is continuing with raids and arrests in Italy this week. The arrests in Spain were part of an operation targeting individuals suspected as connected to the attacks that took down the Playstation Network for almost a month. While it’s unclear if these raids in Italy are related to those, three people (including one minor) have been nabbed.
The raids follow police action in Spain last month, which saw another three suspects arrested in connection with the hack which brought down Sony’s Playstation Network for several weeks. It’s unclear if the Italian arrests relate to the same incident or not, but police are reportedly claiming to have grabbed an alleged “ringleader” going by the nickname of Frey – an Italian 26 year-old living in Switzerland.
The “ringleader” captured in the Canton of Ticino (Switzerland) appears to have signed his hacks with the handle “Phre” (anglicanized above as “Frey”.) Yet another source reports his handle as “Thre.” Obviously there might be some linguistic issue involved, but if he was digitally signing things with it, you’d think we’d have a copy/paste by now.
Reports from Italian sources suggest that through the 32 pre-dawn raids were codenamed “Secure Italy,” and uncovered not only Frey, but 14 other hackers, including 5 minors. The targeted individuals are primarily suspected as being part of a protest hack (or perhaps DDoS) against a multitude of Italian targets: Eni, Finmeccanica, Post and Unicredit, and those institutions like the Senate, the Chamber of Deputies, Palazzo Chigi, and AGCOM. All of which the Italian police suspect were chosen by Anonymous as demonstrations against behavior by these government groups and companies due to either Internet censorship or other activity on the Net.
According to the Italian police, the method used to attack the services had been to acquire leased space on large server networks with powerful bandwidth capacity. A subtle reminder of how the hack that caused Sony to bring down PSN for a month had been launched from leased space on Amazon’s EC2 network.
The Italian reports do connect the Spanish hackers to the Italian hackers by mentioning that those taken in the raids had been known to aid the Spanish hackers in recent months and conversely the Spanish hackers helped the Italian hackers in January’s attacks.
It’s obvious that elements and sub-cells of the Anonymous collective aren’t so anonymous anymore. People who choose to take part in operations suggested across the mob-mind of forums, chats, Twitter feeds, and etc. do expose themselves to criminal liability when they download software for political demonstrations that initiate cyberwarfare attacks.
We will know more as this saga unfolds.