FBI: We’ve Dismantled Anonymous

An official with Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) says they’ve effectively dismantled Anonymous by arresting its most active members at the core of the group.  That’s the message from a report in the Huffington Post.  The FBI’s claims are based on the 2012 arrests of LulzSec members – a splinter group of Anonymous that was very active and very vocal.  Indeed, it is fair to say that the amount of high-profile devastating attacks has not been on the same scale as it once was in the recent past.  That is exactly what the FBI is counting as vindication of their actions.  Part of that LulzSec operation was the revelation that a mole, FBI informant Hector Monsegur, also known as Sabu had aided the FBI in collecting information and revealing the identities of fellow LulzSec members.  Monsegur was tracked down and coerced into cooperating after mistakenly leaving his IP address exposed, allowing the authorities to track him down.  According to the FBI, that incident has sparked distrust and has had “a huge deterrent effect” in the outlaw community.

On the other side however, Anonymous continues to operate.  Very recent escapades include the breach and release of information from FEMA, the Federal Emergency Management Agency.  There are numerous site defacements and less publicized information releases going on all the time around the world.  Anonymous is still a force that is looking to be heard and to they could come to fore at any time once again.  The FBI statement that the group has been effectively dismantled because core members have been apprehended flies in the face of Anonymous’ organization.  Anonymous has always been adamant that the group has no leadership rank.  It’s a core component of how the group operates.  For the time being it may appear that Anonymous has been lulled into sleep by some of these events, but they’re potentially one big event from turning it on again.  If anything Anonymous will be even more careful than ever before, because of the way Monsegur got sloppy in his case.  The fact of the matter is it can be expected that the group will be more secure than ever and they may just be regrouping, indeed establishing trust, and ready to emerge at any time.  The chatter about “Sabu” – believe me it’s on Anonymous’ minds at all times – you see it in discussions, you see it in the group’s tweets – they’re determined that won’t happen again.

One has to wonder what the FBI has accomplished with these statements.  I don’t have access to their strategy, but from the outside it appears that they are possibly trying to disillusion the cause of Anonymous by declaring victory.  Certainly they must be prepared for a retaliation as the news of this “victory” has been mocked relentlessly within the community.  Anonymous has only seen victory on their side, and a piece of that imagery is part of the symbolism that Guy Fawkes evokes in his character.  This is either some kind of trap, psychological operation, a play for public opinion, or a colossal mistake.  Anonymous is not finished and we may see the resurgence of the group shortly and given the history of the LulzSec saga it may be harder than ever for authorities to stop.

About John Casaretto

SiliconANGLE's CyberSecurity Editor - Have a story tip or feedback? Please reach out to me! Security is as critical as ever and our mission is to uncover those stories that will help our industry be more secure.