FBI arrests Anonymous hackers, conducts raids
July 20, 2011
Federal agents on Tuesday arrested more than a dozen people around the nation with ties to the hacker group “Anonymous.” The arrests were made in nine states and the District of Columbia. [Montery Herald.com]
In an indictment unsealed in U.S. District Court in San Jose, 14 defendants were charged in connection with a December 2010 retaliatory cyber attack that effectively blocked PayPal from conducting online business transactions.
The online pay service had cut off accounts for the controversial website, Wikileaks, founded by Julian Assange, for its release of tens of thousands of secret documents, including embarrassing classified U.S. State Department dispatches.
Anonymous, a loosely organized online hacker group, responded by disrupting PayPal’s computer servers through denial-of-service attacks, which blocked users from accessing their accounts.
The group claims it later disrupted Visa and MasterCard websites after those credit card companies also stopped processing donations to Wikileaks.
The group has claimed responsibility for numerous other attacks on corporate and government websites that it views as corrupt, or as a threat to free society and the free flow of online information.
During the 2011 Egyptian Revolution, Anonymous hacked into Egyptian government websites and took them offline.
The group uses online aliases; some of those who were indicted included nicknames such as “Anthrophobic,” “Toxic,” and “Reaper.”
The FBI announced that it also conducted dozens of raids as part of its ongoing investigation into other Anonymous-related cyber attacks.
The San Jose indictment alleges that members of Anonymous carried out a hacking attack in December called “Operation Avenge Assange” after PayPal suspended Wikileaks’ accounts.
The 14 defendants, mostly twentysomethings, were charged with conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer.
Charged in the indictment were: Christopher Wayne Cooper, 23, Joshua John Covelli, 26, Keith Wilson Downey, 26, Mercedes Renee Haefer, 20, Donald Husband, 29, Vincent Kershaw, 27, Ethan Miles, 33, James C. Murphy, 36, Derw Alan Phillips, 26, Jeffrey Puglisi, 28, Daniel Sullivan, 22, Tracy Ann Valenzuela, 42 and Christopher Quang Vo, 22. One defendant’s name was kept confidential by the court.