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Five alleged Anonymous 'hacktivists' arrested in England for Web attacks

January 27, 2011 |  4:41 pm

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Five men said to be members of the Web hacktivist group Anonymous were arrested in England on Thursday related to recent distributed denial of services attacks.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation also issued more than 40 search warrants across the U.S. today in its own investigation into DDoS attacks on major corporations committed by groups such as Anonymous.

The five men were arrested by the United Kingdom's Metropolitan Police Service in Hertfordshire, London, Northamptonshire, Surrey and West Midlands, according to a report from the BBC.

The FBI said in a statement:

These distributed denial of service attacks (DDoS) are facilitated by software tools designed to damage a computer network's ability to function by flooding it with useless commands and information, thus denying service to legitimate users. A group calling itself "Anonymous" has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies' and organizations' actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries.

The FBI also is reminding the public that facilitating or conducting a DDoS attack is illegal, punishable by up to 10 years in prison, as well as exposing participants to significant civil liability.

The FBI also said it is working with law agencies in France, Germany and the Netherlands on the issue of Web attacks.

The National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance, a private-public partnership group, is also working with the FBI, it said.

Anonymous has no official leader or even membership structure and is a loosely defined group of denizens whose ranks increase and decrease depending on the action it takes, usually in the name of some sort of activism.

Lately, the group has also moved a bit away from hacking and more toward information dissemination. It was among the many who used the Internet, and websites such as YouTube and Twitter, to assist protesters in Tunisia in getting out videos and other reports during the nation's recent revolt against its government.

Last month, Anonymous hacked the websites of Visa and MasterCard, among others, in retaliation for the companies halting acceptance of donations to the WikiLeaks website shortly after it began publishing U.S. diplomatic cables. Anonymous called the attacks "Operation: Payback."

In 2009, Anonymous levied Web attacks and picket-line protests against the Church of Scientology, accusing the group of being a cult seeking profit and not a religion.

RELATED:

Hacktivist group Anonymous assists Tunisia protesters in revolt

Operation: Payback claims to have shut down Visa website in defense of WikiLeaks

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

 Image: A screenshot of Anonymous hacker-activists launching a DDoS attack as they took down Visa.com temporarily. Credit: Anonymous

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