Arrests Do Not Deter 'Anonymous' Hackers

Peter Fedynsky

This week’s attack on the Vatican website comes on the heels of U.S. federal indictments against an international group of alleged computer hackers affiliated with a shadowy group known as Anonymous. 

Early this week the U.S. Attorney in New York indicted five alleged computer hackers.  Authorities describe four of them as principal members of a loose hacker confederation known as Anonymous.  Despite these and other hacking arrests, Anonymous claimed credit the very next day for a cyber-attack on the Vatican's web site.  

Douglas Salane, the director of New York’s Center for Cybercrime Studies at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says the Anonymous group, with it's lack of formal structure, resembles the Occupy Wall Street movement.

“They are loosely structured groups," he said. "It looks like people operate under that banner and leave it.  It looks like individuals involved can be anyone from people who don’t have [jobs and] do this fulltime, to people who have regular jobs and do this on the side.”

Salane says there is no typical hacker.  Some, he says, are activists like Anonymous motivated by a cause; others may be government spies; still others are thieves or adolescents seeking amusement.  Computer expertise is not even necessary.

“Today, there is a malware industry out there, which provides a range of tools to do hacking [so] that people don’t have to be sophisticated to use it," he said. "In fact, the people who produce malware actually provide support for it just like a regular legitimate software package.”

Former FBI agent Brad Garrett says while no one is in charge of Anonymous, the group has the potential for considerable damage.

“The big concern is they do have the wherewithal to do destructiveness to national security, to corporations and even to individuals," said Garrett.

Anonymous has shut down the web sites of various governments overseas; they’ve hacked into U.S. police web sites, as well as those of large corporations and credit card companies.  
Even conversations between U.S. and British law enforcement officials about ways to combat hacking have been hacked.  

“It's kind of like they're poking the tiger, you know, but in this case, they're poking the FBI," said Kevin Mitnick, a former hacker."They want to prove to the government, apparently, that they're smarter.”

Douglas Salane says even with high-level prosecutions, hacking of all kinds will continue.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: john1513
March 09, 2012 5:37 AM
Anonymous hacked a website? They've done so much to help children and society.

by: Robert Makoi
March 08, 2012 6:46 PM
Hacking is to computer as trespassing is to private land. Uptune the sentences/ fines for hackers!

by: Me Here
March 08, 2012 3:38 PM
"The big concern is they do have the wherewithal to do destructiveness to national security, to corporations and even to individuals," said Garrett. ....... yes garrett we all know the Govt Hates competition !! ROFLOLOLOL

by: m.kuzma
March 08, 2012 3:14 PM
what happens when the hack attack is focussed on an objective ? according to this article hackers are uncoordinated. but i think different.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syriai
November 26, 2015 5:21 AM
Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs