Anonymous and Other Hacking Groups Go On Hacking Spree; PayPal, NBC and Symantec Targeted First

In celebration of Guy Fawkes Day, members of Anonymous and many other hacker groups have taken to the Web to deface as many websites as possible, focusing on both big and small. At the time of writing, it's a little difficult to see exactly how each targeted website was defaced, but the numbers keep on rising.

According to ZDNET, ImageShack, PayPal, NBC, Lady GaGa's official, Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno portals (related to NBC), Arcelor Mittal (mining company in Australia), GiftNow, the official Greek City site and the Ghana Consulate site have all been hacked and defaced in some way. Further, someone has leaked source for the kernel of VMware's ESX Server software.

In itself, the work above would seem ridiculous enough, but if you monitor Anonymous' Twitter feed, which is also reporting on other groups' efforts, the list continues to grow all the time. In Italy, the group is responsible for stealing 30,000 credentials, including social-security numbers.

Even Canada's finance minister Jim Flaherty can't escape the madness, as his own website has also been defaced. News of more affected websites are coming in so frequently that one website has even begun tracking just the affected sites from Australia.

When will this all end? Presumably once the day is over. But it's clear at this point that Anonymous and many other hacker groups out there plan on leaving their mark before the day is through.

Why all of this on November 5? It's thanks to Guy Fawkes Day, primarily observed in the UK. It commemerates the failed November 5, 1605 assassination attempt on King James I. A mask, stylized after Guy Fawkes and popularized by movie V for Vendetta, has in recent years become synonymous with Anonymous, and to many, hacking in general. Fun fact: Time Warner owns the copyrights to the mask's image, so for each one sold, the company gets a cut.