An FBI official has linked the decrease in high-profile cyber attacks from the hacker collective Anonymous to the arrest of some of the group’s leaders.
Anonymous garnered worldwide publicity beginning in late 2010 for a number of cyber attacks targeting American companies and government agencies, including the New York Stock Exchange and the FBI. But recently, the group’s activities have dialed down.
Austin Berglas, assistant special agent in charge of New York’s FBI cyber division, attributes it to last year’s arrest of five members of Lulz Security, an Anonymous splinter group. The arrests were made with the help of Hector Monsegur or “Sabu,” a member of Anonymous who, when caught, chose to cooperate with the FBI. Berglas says that the informant’s cooperation created distrust within the collective.
“All of these guys [arrested] were major players in the Anonymous movement, and a lot of people looked to them just because of what they did,” said Berglas. “The movement is still there, and they’re still yacking on Twitter and posting things, but you just don’t hear about these guys coming forward with those large breaches. It’s just not happening, and that’s because of the dismantlement of the largest players.”
But Gabriella Coleman, a professor at McGill University who studies Anonymous, warns that while the arrests may have dealt a blow to the group, it may not be the end of them.
“They could easily emerge again as a force to contend with,” Coleman said.