January 28, 2011

‘Anonymous’ Cyberattackers Arrested In UK

Five men were arrested by authorities in the UK on Thursday in connection with the 'distributed denial of service' (DDoS) attacks launched by a group claiming to act in defense of the controversial file sharing website Wikileaks, multiple news agencies are reporting.

In a statement cited by AFP reporters, London police confirmed that "five males aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26" tied to the online organization known as Anonymous "are being held after a series of coordinated arrests at residential addresses."

The law enforcement officers said that the arrests were part of an ongoing joint UK/US investigation into the group's DDoS attacks on the websites of Amazon, Mastercard, Visa, and others. The targeted companies had all terminated existing business relationships with Wikileaks following the website's publication of sensitive American embassy cables and other documents.

Meanwhile, in the US, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) executed more than 40 search warrants as part of the investigation. According to Reuters, the American law enforcement group say that they were "working closely" with international partners--including those in the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and France--"to mitigate these threats."

In an open letter released in response to Thursday's legal developments, Anonymous told British government officials that "pursuing this direction is a sad mistake on your behalf. Not only does it reveal the fact that you do not seem to understand the present-day political and technological reality, we also take this as a serious declaration of war."

Anonymous claims that a DDoS attack is nothing more than a "way of voicing civil protest"¦ Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest, we block access to our opponents' infrastructure to get our message across."

"It is clear then, that arresting somebody for taking part in a DDoS attack is exactly like arresting somebody for attending a peaceful demonstration in their hometown," the organization said. "Anonymous believes this right to peacefully protest is one of the fundamental pillars of any democracy and should not be restricted in any way."

"Moreover, we have noted that similar attacks have also been carried out against Wikileaks itself, yet so far, nobody has been arrested in connection with these attacks, nor are there even any signs of an investigation into this issue at all," Anonymous added. "We can therefore only assume that these arrests are politically motivated, and were being carried out under pressure from the US government. Anonymous cannot, and will not, stand idle while this injustice is being done."

According to Reuters, "The maximum penalty in Britain for offences of computer misuse is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of 5,000 pounds ($7,953). In the United States, such a cyber attack carries a maximum punishment of 10 years in prison and significant fines."


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