Early Tuesday morning, the FBI executed search warrants on three homes in the New York area belonging to suspected members of Anonymous. Including the home of Giordani Jordan, which they hit at 6 a.m. EST with a search warrant for computers and computer related peripherals—an article on Foxnews.com mentions that agents removed at least one laptop,
Tuesday’s search warrants were part of an ongoing investigation into Anonymous, which claimed responsibility for attacks against a variety of websites including Visa and Mastercard. Anonymous is a loose collection of cybersavvy activists inspired by WikiLeaks and its flamboyant head Julian Assange to fight for “Internet freedom” — along the way defacing websites, shutting down servers, and scrawling messages across screens web-wide.
Another Twitter feed purportedly connected to the Anonymous group issued a defiant message Tuesday morning in response to the FBI’s action: “It doesn’t matter how many people the ‘FBI’ arrest. Whether they are core members or not. #anonymous have started something unstoppable.”
And then it comes down to sociology. Anonymous isn’t a “group” in the traditional sense, which is why most news reports classify them as a “collective.” This is primarily because Anonymous is more-or-less a flag or graffito used as a moniker by people involved in activities that they believe best represent the ideals behind the current community that supports the activities of Anonymous. As a result, we see fractured factions, sub-factions, and even unrelated groups using the name Anonymous in their activities.
Certain actions or “operations” being carried out by groups running with the Anonymous banner may have core members; but without diluting the culture that spawns the ideas that then get mapped onto the Anonymous nom de gurrre alongside operations such as #AntiSec.
Who the authorities will stop, however, are the individuals who perform the attacks and criminal hacking. In fact, that’s all they can do. It’s a Red Queen’s race between various levels of policing action and the distributed and democratizing proliferation of these ideas and software to carry them out. We’ve seen raids taken out by police in Italy and in other parts of the world netting people involved in flying the Anonymous banner. And also FBI search warrants being executed in Ohio in search of the hacker group LulzSec (a group who emerged from the same culture as Anonymous.)
LulzSec, Anonymous, #AntiSec more dispersed than easily shut down
In fact, Jordan is currently only mentioned as being suspected of being part of a disturbed-denial-of-service attack against various websites such as MasterCard, Visa, etc. in the wake of the Julian Assange Wikileaks fiasco. To do this, he might have simply downloaded the software from a storage site and ran it on his computer with little actual hacking knowledge. He may in fact be much more involved than that, but this should illustrate my point: many people netted for DDoS attacks are just running tools on their computers and may know little about them.
Between the activities of Anonymous, LulzSec, and the #AntiSec movement triggered by the same we’ve seen a lot of fallout from the disparate portions of the collective culture. From serious and numerous leaks of information, such as documents from AZDPS, and break-ins at numerous FBI-affiliated websites, such as IRC Federal and Booz Hamilton Allen. In actuality, these are all separate events, following a copycat pattern and a legacy left behind by LulzSec, perpetrated by poorly-geared, street-level hackers essentially spray-painting the same graffiti on the wall as they leave.
As much time is necessary in hunting down the hackers who committed these crimes really must also be put into building a culture of security into FBI-affiliates and other computer systems connected to governments across the world. We’ve already seen one US Representative call for action when McCain sent his proposal; and there’s been mentions that the Pentagon lost 24k files to actual savvy foreign agents.