FBI goes after Anonymous suspects

FBI goes after Anonymous suspects

Summary: The FBI has executed over 40 search warrants as part of an international hunt for the people involved in Anonymous DDoS attacks in support of Wikileaks, while UK police have bailed five suspects

TOPICS: Government, Security

The FBI has carried out over 40 searches in an investigation into cyberattacks launched by the Anonymous group in support of whistle-blower site Wikileaks.

The swoop on Thursday was part of an international police operation that included the Metropolitan Police Central eCrime Unit (PCeU), the FBI said. It follows the arrest of five young men in the UK on suspicion of involvement in the same Operation Payback series of distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS).

Anonymous FBI investigation

Anonymous's Operation Payback took down sites like visa.com after the company stopped accepting Wikileaks' payments. Credit: Elinor Mills/CNET News

"FBI agents today executed more than 40 search warrants throughout the United States as part of an ongoing investigation into recent coordinated cyberattacks against major companies and organisations," the FBI said in a statement on Thursday. "The victims included major US companies across several industries."

The Anonymous group of online activists has claimed responsibility for a series of successful attacks against websites belonging to businesses including Visa, MasterCard and PayPal, which stopped processing payments destined for Wikileaks.

The five men arrested in the UK have been granted police bail, the Met said in a statement on Friday. The three youngest — who are aged 15, 16 and 19 years old — must report to police on 13 April, while the oldest two — aged 20 and 26 — must report on 14 April.

The international police operation into the Operation Payback attacks was led by the PCeU, a Met spokeswoman told ZDNet UK. The other participants were: the FBI; the US Secret Service; and the national criminal police departments of the Netherlands — Korps landelijke politiediensten (KLPD), Sweden's Rikskriminalpolisen (RKP) and Germany's Bundeskriminalamt (BKA).

French authorities were also involved, according to the FBI.

Antivirus companies have put out updates to detect the Low Orbit Ion Canon tool thought to have been used in the attacks, the FBI said, adding that the US's National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance is helping in the investigation.

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Topics: Government, Security

Tom Espiner

About Tom Espiner

Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com. He covers the security beat, writing about everything from hacking and cybercrime to threats and mitigation. He also focuses on open source and emerging technologies, all the while trying to cut through greenwash.

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  • They are being arrested for running a program on their computer that mimics pressing the "refresh" button on a browser over and over - and no faster than what you can do with your finger. It only automates the process (and poorly; it's arguably more effective to click it manually). It seems to me dishonest to call this a DDoS, which is traditionally executed using a botnet made up of 'zombie' computers. Their targets were isolated to the public storefronts of each organization and they in no way disrupted business activities or services. The 'Low Orbit Ion Cannon' application they used does nothing but load a target web page over and over. This is not complicated or require a high degree of technical understanding, yet there seems to be something about it that prevents people from speaking about the reality of it in plainly spoken and simple language.  
    This is happening to kids who ran a poorly written program that automates pressing the refresh button on a browser? FBI raids? Meanwhile, the media is lazy enough to copy+paste government press releases - a fact difficult to ignore while they use the same blocks of text and ridiculous terminology to describe the situation.  
    Is there anyone left who has the power to be heard and sane enough to recognize this absurdity and say something? These poor kids are being compared to terrorists. Strange world we live in - be careful with that 'Refresh' button on your browser, folks!
  • Why are the FBI raiding teenagers houses rather than drug dens or child pornographers houses?
    I think that Anonymous should keep up their work
    nodding dog