Interpol, the global police agency, announced that it has arrested 25 alleged members of the loosely-knit hacking group, Anonymous, on Tuesday. Just hours afterwards, Interpol’s website went offline; Anonymous announced this on Twitter with the message “interpol.int DOWN.” The Guardian reports that the Interpol site ”was quickly back up and running but was loading slowly.”
Four were arrested in Spain, 10 in Argentina, six in Chile and five in Colombia as part of an Interpol operation called “Exposure.” The Spanish police are accusing the four suspects of denial of service attacks; defacement of the websites of political parties, institutions and companies including the websites of Spanish political parties, Colombia’s defense ministry and presidential websites and Chile’s Endesa electricity company and national library; and publishing the personal information of various high-profile figures. Among those arrested was a 16-year-old girl who is thought to belong to international “sector 404,” a hacking group believed to be linked to attacks conducted by Anonymous; she has been released to the custody of her parents. Others arrested are still being detained while at least one has been released on bail.
Police also announced that they have blocked two servers in Bulgaria and the Czech Republic used by the group. One of those arrested in Spain is the alleged manager of Anonymous’s computer operations in Spain and Latin America, who goes by the aliases “Thunder” and “Pacotron.”
Anonymous is thought to trace its origins to a “popular United States image messaging board.” Amid global calls for combating online piracy and the “international controversy” that arose after the whistleblower site Wikileaks published thousands of classified documents including diplomatic cables and military intelligence information, Anonymous has “become increasingly politicized,” notes the New York Times.
As New York Times Bits blog observes, Anonymous has stepped up its attacks in the past months. Earlier in February, the group took the C.I.A. Web site offline; the previous week, Anonymous intercepted a conference call between the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Scotland Yard and released a 16-minute recording of the call. Back in August, Anonymous sought to take a Vatican Web site offline, but did not. In 2010, Anonymous brought down the websites of Master Card, Visa and Paypal via distributed denial of service. Hackers associated with Anonymous have been threatening to “shut the Internet down on March 31” by orchestrating an assault on the servers that carry out switchboard functions for the internet.
The group retained its defiant stance after the arrests. A Twitter account said to belong to a member of Anonymous in Brazil stated that ““Interpol, you can’t take Anonymous. It’s an idea.”
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