Anonymous members "shouldn't feel safe" from arrest
By Nicole Kobie
Posted on 27 Nov 2012 at 09:49
Anonymous recruited new members by claiming it was impossible to stop them, but does the hacktivist group really offer safety in numbers?
Four Anonymous members are in court over conspiracy charges this week, accused of attacks against PayPal, MasterCard and Visa in 2010. Three have plead guilty, while one has denied the charges.
At Southwark Crown Court, prosecutor Sandip Patel explained how Anonymous members didn't believe they would ever be caught.
"One user asked what would happen if they got caught," he told the court, according to a report in the Hartlepool Mail.
"It [Anonymous] says the chances [of being caught] are next to zero because so many are doing it," he said, describing answers in online forums. "You simply deny knowing what they are talking about or say you have been infected by a virus. If you try to do this alone, the chances are much higher you will get caught."
I think the authorities have really lost patience with people who think this is an acceptable way to protest
Dozens of alleged Anonymous members have been arrested over the past two years, but it's hard to tell if they've been the unlucky few from a crowd, or if more arrests are set to follow.
"They shouldn't feel safe," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at security firm Sophos, noting it's "all too easy to identify who they are." He noted that the DDoS tool used in many Anonymous attacks doesn't do a very good job of hiding users' IP addresses - and it only takes one mistake to give authorities enough evidence for an arrest.
"Not only have the footsoldiers been arrested... the people not very involved in Anonymous activities, but we've certainly seen people who've been very active in Anonymous brought to book."
However, he noted: "If you're smart, you can largely cover your tracks."
Cluley said that it's hard to get a realistic number on how many people actually take part in Anonymous DDoS attacks, partially because some make use of botnets. Still, it's clear the vast majority of Anonymous members - whether leaders or those who have taken part in a single attack - haven't been arrested.
Worth the effort?
Speaking to the BBC, an Anonymous member going by the name Dr Steelhammer wondered why authorities bother to pursue such hacktivists, saying they can't all be caught. "What I would say to Scotland Yard, the FBI, the federal government in America is 'why are you even bothering to pursue us because there are too many of us?'"
However, the head of the Metropolitan Police's ecrime unit argues it's worth the effort. "People tend to think it's online, it's almost like a game rather than that clicking that button is actually causing serious harm," Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdy told the BBC.
"These individuals are putting people in fear. They are causing these attacks, businesses are folding in some instances, and the sentence needs to reflect that."
Cluley said that such hacktivism is being "taken increasingly seriously" by police. "I think the authorities have really lost patience with people who think this is an acceptable way to protest," he said.
At least they give a flying f...
that the world is steadily descending into a legalised circus of human and environmental abuse.
By dubiou on 27 Nov 2012
"businesses are folding in some instances"?
By revsorg on 27 Nov 2012
Heard this on the flagship Today programme on BBC Radio 4. Bloody awful reporting. They've conflated people using Denial of Service "attacks" with those stealing and releasing confidential or sensitive data so I don't know whether Detective Superintendent Charlie McMurdy's comments (harsher sentences that reflect the fear they're causing, and the businesses that fail as a direct result of attacks) are aimed at those stealing information (fair enough) or those using Denial of Service attacks to temporarily take a website offline (a ridiculous overreaction; sentences seem about right).
By Mark_Thompson on 27 Nov 2012
"I think the authorities have really lost patience with people who think this is an acceptable way to protest."
Probably because it's a more effective way to protest.
We had the UK's biggest ever demonstration against the Iraq war (at least 750,000 people and probably much higher) yet the war criminal Blair went ahead anyway.
In fact the war criminal Blair said he'd have invaded Iraq even if he knew that there were no WMDs (which he did all along).
If I had to pick a side to support, it wouldn't be the same one as the war criminal Blair.
By Alfresco on 28 Nov 2012
The establishment still don't get that the world has changed (for the better). We're no longer reliant on the BBC pumping propaganda into our homes (at our expense!).
The curtain has been lifted and it is pretty clear we don't live in anything even resembling a democracy. People may have been fooled into the past, but not now.
As far as I'm concerned, good luck to Anonymous, Wikileaks, et al. They seem to performing a public service and our self appointed 'leaders' could do with learning a bit of humility - i.e. they work for us, we're not their slaves.
If Anonymous were to obtain the latest MP's expenses and release them online, would you consider that a crime? I know I wouldn't, but I bet the thieving scum in Parliament would.
I doubt that the law abiding majority have anything to fear from 'hacktivists'...
By grimerking on 28 Nov 2012
They certainly are performing a Public Service, the Big Frauds have lots to lose if exposed, and the innocents have nothing to fear. They are doing the job of 'Investigative Journalists', a seemingly extinct breed in the UK press recently. Still, as all Newspapers are subject to Advertising bribery to exist, they have no choice really, leaving people like Anonymous as the only option we have for exposing the sordid truth.
Look up John James Harris on Youtube.
By Wilbert3 on 30 Nov 2012
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