The Spanish National Police announced today that they've captured three individuals connected to the online hacktivist group Anonymous
. According to the policía, the three are linked to attacks on multiple Spanish banks, one Italian energy company, Visa, MasterCard, and the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Columbia, and New Zealand.
Additionally, the police originally stated that the group participated in the April attacks that crippled
Sony's PlayStation Network, but later remarks from police chief Manuel Vazquez indicate this was untrue. Government officials are said to be investigating whether the trio has committed other crimes of international importance such as causing climate change, Bristol Palin's performance on Dancing With the Stars, or the failed Rapture of May 21 (now rescheduled for October due to botnet activity).
The three are accused of using a program known as LOIC to create and maintain zombie botnets. Ironically, two of the three people arrested lacked Internet connections of their own and instead relied on unsecured wireless networks run by third parties.
They may have taken the Lindbergh baby, too. We're just sayin'
The investigation began after Spain's Ministry of Culture complained that it had been the victim of a Denial of Service (DoS) attack. The police claim to have read some two million lines of chat logs and web pages, but it's not clear exactly what the three men in particular did, nor what position they occupied in Anonymous' hierarchy. The diffuseness of the network may make it difficult to charge any one person with a crime.
This latest news comes on the heels of Anonymous' spat with NATO. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization recently published an eight-thousand word treatise on cyber security. The purpose of the original document was to discuss the "dilemma of how to maintain cohesion in the environment where sharing information with Allies increases information security risks, but where withholding it undermines the relevance and capabilities of the Alliance."
Anonymous and Wikileaks play starring roles in NATO's document.
As mentioned above, the Information Age has brought about an environment that has made the state and society more vulnerable to digital attacks. They are vulnerable because we no longer keep our files and data in a shelf, but in a virtual world accessible from any one of the world’s corners. As in the case of WikiLeaks, these files can be physically removed from a computer, handed over to adversaries, or simply made public.
Anonymous has since fired back, claiming that itself and Wikileaks do not threaten society. The organizations are instead threats to traditional hierarchies that have relied on secrecy and control of information to maintain power.
It is Anonymous' position that when there is a conflict of interest between the government and the people, it is the people's will which must take priority. The only threat transparency poses to government is to threaten government's ability to act in a manner which the people would disagree with, without having to face democratic consequences and accountability for such behaviour...
Anonymous does not accept that the government and/or the military has the right to be above the law and to use the phoney cliche of "national security" to justify illegal and deceptive activities.
The Spanish police action may partly be an attempt to crack down on the diffuse group. Multiple governments, including the United States, have expressed a desire to bring Wikileaks and Anonymous to heel. Whether or not the legal system is able to effectively deal with the group's members is another question.