WikiLeaks Hactivists Released on Bail. Next Target: The UK Government?

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The five suspects linked to the Anonymous Hactivist group have been released on bail Friday, reports The Guardian.  The five males were arrested by London Metropolitan Police Thursday in connection with online DDoS attacks in support of WikiLeaks last December. Meanwhile, the FBI also issued 40 search warrants across the U.S. in their own deepening investigation of the group.

Anonymous struck back by calling the UK arrests “a serious declaration of war” causing the UK government websites to brace themselves for looming web attacks. Although Anonymous has no official leader or even membership structure, it’s members often identify themselves in web videos by wearing the Guy Fawkes masks popularized by the book and film ‘V for Vendetta’. Lately, the group has focused on disseminating information instead of hacking and helped assist protesters in Tunisia revolt against the government by broadcasting reports and videos through YouTube and Twitter.

The move follows on from when the hactivists carried out a series of online assaults last month against businesses they saw as enemies of WikiLeaks, temporarily bringing down the websites of Visa, MasterCard, Amazon and even the Swedish government.  The so-called DDoS attacks are illegal in the UK under the Computer Misuse Act and carry a maximum fine of £5,000–or $8,000. A DDoS attack consists of swamping the resources of a computer such as a server to make it unavailable and the site is flooded with so many page requests that it becomes overwhelmed and drops offline.

Security professionals said those being investigated were using the Low Orbit Ion Cannon tool (LOIC ), a piece of software to help carry out DDoS attacks. If an internet service provider released IP logs, it would be simple to locate LOIC users, reports IT PRO.  Anonymous recruited thousands of people to use their PCs to bring down the websites that blocked WikiLeaks in the uproar over the U.S. diplomatic cables.

The investigation is being carried out with international law enforcement agencies across Europe and the U.S., London Metropolitan Police said in a statement. Dutch authorities have already arrested a 16-year-old male linked to Anonymous.  But perhaps ‘Anonymous No More’ might be a better name for the group, if these law enforcement agencies have their way and the identity of the suspects are revealed.

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