You know it is a real mistake to taunt the Federal Government, especially when you have actually done something illegal. That is where LulzSec is tonight. They have been accused of participation in some of the more recent and massive hacking attacks. Which is enough to get you on the FBI radar, but when you put out a Twitter saying you will “unleash fire on multiple targets” well that is another story all together. The FBI has no sense of humor, at least none ever detected by science.
Information Weekly has a good article detailing how the FBI, Homeland Security, and international partners are working together to roll up LulzSec and Anonymous. There has been some bad blood between the two groups and the recent arrest in England of Ryan Cleary by Scotland Yard has brought it to a head.
Cleary was accused by Anonymous of exposing some of the hacking crew’s members. From the Information Weekly article:
“There’s no way you’re going to continue to get away with this stuff,” said Chester Wisneiwski, senior security advisor at Sophos. “This perception of anonymity that these guys have, as soon as the chips start to fall, your contact details are out there because either you crossed them, or they start flipping on one another when they get arrested.”
Cleary may have “crossed” Anonymous, for example, and gotten burned as a result–public infighting may have been a factor in his arrest. Online posters associated with Anonymous in May accused Cleary of stealing passwords from and revealing private details on Anonymous members, and revealed his name, email, physical address, phone number, family members’ names, and other information online.
A website called LulzSec Exposed has released numerous private chat logs from the group, and says it has personal details on certain hackers and claims to be cooperating with the FBI and international law enforcement organizations. Other details on alleged LulzSec members have been leaked on sites like Pastebin, which allows anonymous posting of text.
While the two groups are sniping at each other, the FBI is continuing to bring a circle around them. In a different but probably related story, a large group of websites were brought down by a raid the FBI conducted on a hosting facility in Reston VA.
The facility, run by DigitalOne, was raided and several servers were removed. The physical servers, not just a data dump. The New York Times Bits blog has the story. It is suspected that this is in connection with looking for Anonymous and LulzSec, but so far the FBI has refused to comment on the record but an unnamed official did say that they were investigating Lulz and any associated hackers.
The people who are talking are the ones whose websites basically vanished last night. Curbed Network which provides a series of blogs and Instapaper which stores news stories for later reading were both still off line as of 7pm Eastern time this evening.
From the Bits blog post:
The sites of the Curbed Network, including popular blogs covering real estate, restaurants and other topics, were all unavailable Tuesday evening. Lockhart Steele, Curbed’s president, said his team realized that the company’s sites were down at around 3 a.m. and contacted DigitalOne. After initially declining to say what had happened, DigitalOne explained that the F.B.I. had raided the data center, Mr. Steele said.
What is interesting about the FBI seizing the physical servers is that they will be able to go over them and retrieve the ISP logs which will help them in locating the hackers or the next link in the chain that will lead to them. Still that could have been done with a court order.
The other thing the FBI was doing was sending a not so subtle signal to hosting services. They were saying “Nice little hosting business you got there, it would be a shame if we had to ruin it because you know nasty hackers”. And I think that DataOne, at least, is going to have received that message loud and clear.
The FBI has decided to bring the hammer down on these hackers. When you have the full attention of group like that, combined with other international investigating forces, you are in a world of hurt.
The tragic thing about all this is that it is not going to end with rolling up these guys and gals. This can very easily become a pretext for more monitoring and more intensive regulation of the Internet. After all, there is a new 1.2 billion dollar data center that is being completed in Utah. And guess who is running it? The NSA. Doesn’t that make you feel all warm and cuddly?
What is on your minds tonight Firedogs? The floor is yours.