FBI arrests more than a dozen in Anonymous hacking investigation

July 19, 2011
Cyber Security, FedCyber Wire
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via CNET News

Authorities have arrested more than a dozen people today in the United States in connection with hacking attacks by the Anonymous group of online activists, sources said.

The arrests follow raids earlier in the day on homes in New York, California, New Jersey, and Florida, a law enforcement official told CBS News.

Fourteen arrests were listed in one indictment, including arrests out of San Francisco, and two other separate arrests were made in New Jersey and Florida, following raids related to between 30 to 40 search warrants, Fox News reported.

Details were not immediately available on the arrests, which a U.S. government official told CBS News about and another source confirmed to CNET. An FBI spokesman in San Francisco confirmed that “the FBI is part of a nationwide investigation” into hacking, but said he could not comment further. A spokesman with the U.S. Department of Justice in San Francisco said he could neither confirm nor deny reports of the arrests.

The decentralized Anonymous collective has been targeting computer attacks on government and corporate Web sites, including Monsanto, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the City of Orlando, Sony, Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, as well as government sites in Egypt, Turkey, and Tunisia. (See our chart of recent hacking attacks here.) Anonymous often issues warnings and statements saying the attacks are done to protest Internet censorship and alleged government corruption or corporate malfeasance.

The hackers primarily use distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, which are designed to temporarily cripple Web sites. To do that, they enlist supporters to use software on their computers that sends so many requests to access a target Web site that it overwhelms the site with traffic, effectively shutting it down.

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