About “Anonymous”

Here is news about anonymous was quoted from Reuters

The main headquarters of the FBI, the J. Edgar Hoover Building, is seen in Washington on March 4, 2012. Credit: Reuters/Gary Cameron

Hacking “mole” helps FBI arrest Anonymous leaders

By Basil Katz and Grant McCool

NEW YORK | Tue Mar 6, 2012 10:13pm EST

(Reuters) – One of the world’s most-wanted hackers secretly became an FBI informant last year, providing evidence that led to charges on Tuesday against five other suspected leaders of the Anonymous international hacking group.

In a major blow to Anonymous, which has attacked the websites of government agencies and companies around the world, U.S. authorities revealed that a leading hacker “Sabu” was Hector Xavier Monsegur and that he was arrested at his small apartment in a Manhattan housing complex last June.

At a secret court hearing on August 15, 2011, Monsegur, 28, pleaded guilty to each of the 12 computer crimes and agreed to cooperate with authorities in exchange for leniency, according to a transcript that was made public on Tuesday.

U.S. prosecutors and the FBI on Tuesday announced charges against five other men, including two in Britain and two in Ireland who were all previously arrested.

The fifth was Jeremy Hammond, known as “Anarchaos,” who was arrested in Chicago on Monday on charges of hacking into Strategic Forecasting Inc, or “Stratfor,” a global intelligence and research firm, in December 2011.

All six were top members of LulzSec, an offshoot of the loose-knit international cyber-activist group Anonymous.

“These cyber criminals affiliated themselves with Anonymous in different ways. They are not Anonymous today, they have been identified and charged,” said a law enforcement official, who did not want to be identified as the investigation was ongoing.

LulzSec and Anonymous have taken credit for carrying out attacks against the CIA, Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency, Japan’s Sony Corp, Mexican government websites and the national police in Ireland. Other victims included Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm News International, Fox Broadcasting and Sony Pictures Entertainment.

Cyber security experts said the arrests were a major setback for Anonymous and other hacking groups affiliated with it.

“Sabu was seen as a leader … Now that Anonymous realizes he was a snitch and was working on his own for the Fed, they must be thinking: ‘If we can’t trust Sabu, who can we trust?'” said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at Finnish computer security company F-Secure.

“It’s probably not going to be the end of Anonymous, but it’s going to take a while for them to recover, especially from the paranoia,” Hypponen said.

Other experts said it remained to be seen if the arrests would put an end to illegal hacking by Anonymous affiliates.

“You always worry in these things that they’ve got the guys at the fringes of the group,” said Stewart Baker, a former senior official at the Department of Homeland Security and now a cyber security expert at the law firm Steptoe and Johnson.


Online chat rooms favored by Anonymous filled on Tuesday with bile and worry about who would be next. One member warned that Monsegur had better have good FBI bodyguards, while others said the arrests could prompt retaliatory attacks.

The Anonymous-affiliated Twitter account @YourAnonNews called Monsegur a “traitor” and played down the charges, claiming “we don’t have a leader.”

The hacking movement he helped foment was still in action after his exposure. Late on Tuesday, hackers acting in the name of Antisec broke into websites owned by Panda Security, which had helped police investigate Anonymous before recent arrests in Europe.

The hackers left profanity-laden criticism of both the Spain-based company and Sabu. “Yeah yeah we know.Sabu snitched on us,” they wrote. “Love to those who fight for something they believe in.”

Born in New York, Monsegur attended college and worked at technology jobs, displaying a rare combination of hacking talent, working-class sensibility and political conviction. He said he first hacked for a cause more than a decade ago when he interfered with communications during controversial U.S. Navy bombing exercises in Vieques, Puerto Rico.

According to a posting on an online chat room in September that appears to include “Sabu,” he was asked what advice he would give new hackers.

“Stick to yourselves,” replied “Sabu.” “If you are in a crew – keep your opsec up 24/7. Friends will try to take you down if they have to.”

As a leader of Lulz Security (LulzSec), Monsegur took responsibility for attacks on the websites of eBay’s PayPal, MasterCard Inc and Visa Inc between December 2010 and June 2011, according to court papers.

He is free on a $50,000 bond. One of the charges carries a possible maximum prison term of 30 years.

Representatives of the companies, which had been targeted because they refused to process donations to WikiLeaks, declined to comment on the arrests


Monsegur also identified himself as a member of hacking group “Internet Feds” while Hammond said he was a member of another Anonymous affiliate, “AntiSec,” officials said.

A criminal complaint quotes one of Hammond’s postings as saying, “We call upon all allied battleships, all armies from darkness, to use and abuse these password lists and credit card information to wreak unholy havoc upon systems and personal email accounts of these rich and powerful oppressors.”

Lawyers for Monsegur and Hammond did not immediately return calls seeking comment on the charges.

U.S. authorities said the cyber attacks had affected more than 1 million people and the computer systems of foreign governments, such as Algeria, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Authorities said Monsegur and three of the charged men raided personal information about 70,000 potential contestants on Fox Television show “X-Factor.”

In another example of the hacking, officials said defendants and others broke into computer servers of HBGary company in California and Colorado, including about 60,000 emails and posted them on a file-sharing website.

In a May 2011 hack on Sony Pictures, some of the defendants stole confidential information of about 100,000 users of the Sony Pictures website, including passwords, email addresses, home addresses and dates of birth.

“I personally participated in cyber attacks on the systems of HBGary and Fox, resulting in a loss of more than $5,000, and I knew my conduct was illegal,” Monsegur confessed in August at his plea proceeding.

Last summer, as part of a coordinated law enforcement raid on the group, British police arrested Jake Davis, another suspected member of LulzSec who went by the nickname “Topiary.”

One of the cases announced on Tuesday was against Davis, a teenager accused of computer attacks on Sony, UK crime and health authorities, and Rupert Murdoch’s UK newspaper arm News International, a unit of News Corp.

Davis is believed to have controlled the main Twitter account of Lulz Security, which the group used to publish data obtained by hacking into corporate and government networks.

LulzSec has more than 350,000 followers on Twitter.

Last month, Anonymous published a recording of a confidential call on January 17 between the FBI and London detectives in which the agents discussed action against hackers. One of the six arrested on Tuesday was Donncha O’Cearrbhail, 19, of Ireland, who was charged over the telephone intercept.

(Reporting By Basil Katz and Grant McCool; Additional Reporting by Diane Bartz, Lorraine Turner, Georgina Prodhan, Joeseph Menn; Editing by Mark PorterDerek CaneyMatthew Lewis andMichael Perry)


“Anonymous” hurt by arrests but hard to kill

By Peter Apps, Political Risk Correspondent

LONDON | Thu Mar 8, 2012 11:23am EST

(Reuters) – In turning one of its best-known hackers into an informant and breaking open the highest profile elements of the “Anonymous” movement, authorities have dealt a serious blow to a group they found a growing irritant.

But as the broader “Anonymous” label – complete with its iconic Guy Fawkes mask imagery – is used by ever more disparate causes worldwide, it may be all but impossible to shut it down for good.

U.S. authorities revealed on Wednesday that leading Anonymous hacker “Sabu” – real name Hector Xavier Monsegur, aged 28 – had been arrested last June in his apartment in a Manhattan housing complex.

According to a newly released court transcript, he agreed to cooperate with authorities in return for likely leniency – helping U.S. prosecutors bring charges against five more men, including two in Britain and two in Ireland. All had also been previously arrested.

“Sabu was seen as a leader,” said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer of Finnish security firm f-secure. “Just yesterday people were looking up to him… it’s a very serious blow. It’s probably not going to be the end of Anonymous but it’s going to take a while for them to recover, particularly from the paranoia.”

All six were said to be senior members of LulzSec, an offshoot of Anonymous that took credit for a range of hacking attacks on government and private sector websites. Targets included the CIA, Britain’s Serious Organized Crime Agency, Japan’s Sony Corp and a host of others including in Ireland and Mexico.

Taking inspiration from the hacking and Internet community as well as popular culture – particularly the 2005 film “V for Vendetta” in which a masked hero fights a dystopian government – Anonymous emerged in the middle of the last decade.

Initially focused on fighting attempts at Internet regulation and blocking free illegal downloads, it has since taken on a range of other targets including Scientology and the global banking system. Governments have been a growing target, both Western and in more autocratic states such asChina and Iran. Websites have been attacked and occasionally shut down.

But Anonymous – and LulzSec in particular – leapt to much greater prominence in late 2010 when they launched what they described as the “first cyber war” in retaliation for attempts to shut down the Wikileaks website.

They attacked websites such as MasterCard that tried to block payments to Wikileaks after apparent pressure from the US government following the release of thousands of diplomatic cables.


“This is probably the end of this particular group,” said Tim Hardy, a British activist and computer scientist who runs the blog “Beyond Clicktivism. ” But… part of the point of Anonymous is that it’s a group that anyone can say they are part of, whether they are attacking a website or wearing a mask outside the Church of Scientology.”

Those masks became an increasingly frequent sight on Western streets in 2011, increasingly adopted by more radical, libertarian and sometimes anarchist elements of European and U.S. protest groups.

They became a frequent sight at demonstrations such as “Occupy Wall Street” and its spin-offs elsewhere in the U.S. and Britain. They were also heavily used by the “indignados” anti-austerity protesters in Spain, where fancy dress shops ran out of stock and had to import them from abroad.

Such popular usage will likely continue, but the loss of some of the movement’s highest profile stars and technical experts will still hurt.

Web forums frequented by Anonymous were frothing with abuse and anger following the arrests on Tuesday. “Sabu” had been occasionally suspected of being a mole, but had continued to operate as an effective leader advising other hackers on the importance of maintaining anonymity and security.

“No honor among thieves,” said Tony Dyhouse, a computer security expert at UK defense firm QinetiQ who has long studied hackers. “Any further (Anonymous) actions are likely to be much more low-key. Fear is in the ranks. However, there will be many that see some of the casualties as martyrs and empty footprints to be filled.”

Computer security experts say the hackers of LulzSec appeared much more technically adept than had been usual for Anonymous, which has often relied on simple – if illegal – software that can be downloaded by any potential hacker regardless of their technical skills.


While many of its attacks – often direct denial of service (DDOS) attacks designed to overload websites – were relatively simple, LulzSec penetrated secure commercial systems to steal highly sensitive information.

These included credit card details of users of Sony’s latest PlayStation platform as well as client details and some 5 million e-mails from U.S. specialist geopolitical publisher and sometime private intelligence firm Stratfor. The Stratfor e-mails were then passed on to Wikileaks, which is now publishing them.

U.S. authorities said one of those arrested this week, Jeremy Hammond – a Chicago resident who styled himself “Anarchaos” – had been charged with the Stratfor hack. Another of those arrested, 19-year-old Donncha O’ Cearrbhail, was charged with another recent high profile success – the hacking of a conference call between the FBI and London detectives discussing action against hackers.

“Undoubtedly this is a big feather in the cap for the Feds,” said QinetiQ’s Dyhouse. “But the Scotland Yard/FBI leak shows how simple mistakes can have a huge impact on any operation. Interceptions can be so easy these days.”

Ultimately, Anonymous and LulzSec in particular may have been the victims of their own success and over ambition. Whatever the technical mistakes and personal weaknesses that led to their undoing, security experts say their fate was sealed once they became so high profile that authorities made them a priority.

The success of Anonymous in the last two years may also have itself driven greater emphasis on computer security and fuelled demands for regulation – the opposite of their intent.

Even for a global activist community infused with new energy and political significance in the aftermath of the financial crisis, Anonymous remains controversial and divisive.

While some members may be admired for their actions and beliefs – albeit often varied and extreme – others are seen as simply in it for the “lulz”, the plural of the Internet abbreviation LOL for “laugh out loud”.

“There are those who see them as banner carriers for the revolutionary left,” says Beyond Clicktivism’s Hardy. “But there are also those who see them just as consumerists who don’t want to pay (for)… music and videos.”

(Additional reporting by Georgina Prodhan)

(Reporting By Peter Apps)

(Replaces reference to “leniency” with “likely leniency” in paragraph 4, corrects spelling of suspect in paragraph 20 to Hammond from Hammonds)


Accused Irish LulzSec hacker worked in security

By Joseph Menn and Basil Katz

SAN FRANCISCO/NEW YORK | Thu Mar 8, 2012 11:43pm EST

(Reuters) – One of the people accused by U.S. authorities of being at the core of Lulz Security, perhaps the most feared hacking group on the planet, led a nonprofit group in Galway, Ireland, dedicated to making websites more secure.

Darren Martyn, who was named in an indictment unsealed in Manhattan federal court on Tuesday, was a local chapter leader of the Open Web Application Security Project, which develops open-source applications to improve security, according to an official at the international group.

Thomas Brennan, who is a director of OWASP’s parent group, said Martyn resigned last week.

“It’s about laws and ethics, and people have to determine whether they want to follow the speed limit, follow the law,” Brennan told Reuters, referring to hackers who choose to break the law. “We have the same skill set as the bad guys, but the only difference is ethics.”

Martyn didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment. His Facebook page says that he attended the National University of Ireland in Galway and that “people who inspire” him include reformed hacker Kevin Mitnick, security professional HD Moore and Mahatma Gandhi.

Martyn was named in the same indictment as Jake Davis, accused of being Topiary, and Ryan Ackroyd, accused of being Kayla – both online handles made famous in the hacking world after their group chats were leaked last year.

Martyn was known online as Pwnsauce and Networkkitten, according to the indictment that was unsealed alongside the guilty plea by Lulz Security leader Sabu, exposed as Hector Monsegur of New York.

Martyn is listed in the indictment as currently residing in Ireland, but it was unclear if he had yet responded to the U.S. charges.

If found guilty, Martyn would hardly be the first hacker to do good things by day and bad things by night.

People drawn to computer security often gravitate to it at a young age – the indictment says Martyn is 25 but local Irish newspapers say he is 5 or 6 years younger than that – and they test their theories by breaking into places they shouldn’t. Many respected professionals were once offensive hackers as teens but stopped before they ran into real trouble.

Others didn’t make the switch in time and continued to ply both ends. Consultant Max Butler was a significant contributor to open-source security software before being revealed in 2007 as “Iceman,” proprietor of the largest U.S.-based underground market for selling stolen credit cards and other hacked data.

Even many of those who went straight, or always were, have an ambivalent sympathy for Anonymous, the much larger cyber-activist group that gave rise to Lulz Security, or LulzSec.

Some share core political tenets including distrust of governments and a passionate belief that computers and the Internet are tools for individual empowerment that need to be defended.

Perhaps as significant, many in the trade are tired of not being listened to. They have warned corporate leaders for years about the need to spend in order to plug obvious holes in their security, but little has been done.

With spectacular hacks of well-known companies, Anonymous and Lulz Security have finally made company boardrooms give more than lip service to cyber security, corporate consultants and police investigators say privately.

At last year’s DefCon convention for amateur and professional security enthusiasts, a panel of experts went so far as to give advice on how Anonymous could improve itself. Among the ideas was for the amorphous group to publish guidelines and only attack companies that ran afoul of them.

Panelists Josh Corman and Brian Martin wrote in a follow-up blog post that they wanted a “better Anonymous.”

“`Better’ does not mean more criminal acts in the name of the greater good, it means a more efficient organization that can achieve the same (or better) results with less collateral damage,” they wrote.

Outside investigators working with the FBI have told Reuters that some employees of major security companies have been active in Anonymous, though it is unknown if any played a role as large as the one Martyn is accused of playing.

In a conversation posted online, an email sent under Martyn’s name appeared to acknowledge the temptation of using hacking skills for criminal ends. “Remember,” the email dated last October said, “all hackers have potential to do good as well as evil, it is just a matter of their choice.”

(Reporting by Joseph Menn in San Francisco and Basil Katz in New York; Editing by Gary Hill)



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