Why LulzSec’s Disbanding Doesn’t Really Mean Much at All

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So long, LulzSec, we hardly knew ye. The infamous—and I say “‘infamous” like the term was used to describe El Guapo in Three Amigos—band of merry hackers called it quits over the weekend. And I say “called it quits” like someone goes from smoking inside their house to only smoking outside, at parties, and when all the windows are open.

As a group, LulzSec may be no more but the supposed six individuals that made up LulzSec probably aren’t going anywhere. There are several theories as to why the group split up—they were bored, the cops were after them, their 50-day hacking spree was planned to end at 50 days—but the group’s final sign-off contains this choice snippet:

“While we are responsible for everything that The Lulz Boat is, we are not tied to this identity permanently. Behind this jolly visage of rainbows and top hats, we are people.”

Six people who know how to hack. Even if none of them ever hack again, the group’s escapades have undoubtedly inspired legions of other hackers to follow in their footsteps. And why not? The group got covered breathlessly in the press and, to date, the only consequence so far is that a 19-year-old that the group appears to be loosely affiliated with got arrested.

(MORE: Arrested U.K. Hacker Charged for Attack Claimed by LulzSec)

If the authorities are truly closing in on LulzSec, then it’d make sense for them to close up shop and go underground for a while. If the group’s truly bored, that makes some sense, too. I’ve noticed the reactions to our coverage go from shock and disbelief in the beginning to “again?” towards the end.

People just don’t seem to be as shocked by major hacks any more.

And while that may ultimately serve to cut down on high-profile attacks, it probably won’t. LulzSec appears to have passed the torch—not like a torch really needed to be passed—to Anonymous, a group that doesn’t seem to care about the limelight nearly as much as LulzSec did.

So LulzSec’s Operation Anti-Security campaign (#AntiSec) lives on—a campaign that encourages “any vessel, large or small, to open fire on any government or agency that crosses their path.”

And it didn’t take long for Anonymous to claim responsibility for taking down a Tunisian government website “in the name of #AntiSec” complete with a cherry-on-top tip of the hat to LulzSec’s many boat references: “Aye, we be sailing the Mediterranean Sea, too,” said Anonymous in a Twitter post.

Is LulzSec is truly done for good or is its retirement announcement merely an act of redirection while they wait for the heat to die down? Or something else? It doesn’t really matter. The hacks will continue until enough companies sufficiently tighten up their networks, enough high-profile arrests are made, and enough regular people get sick of hearing about security breaches that hacking “for the lulz” isn’t nearly as enticing as it is now.

Even if all that happens, we’ll still never really be completely safe online. For all the trouble these groups have caused, all the money that’s been stolen and spent because of the breaches, and even the lives that may now be in harm’s way, one thing’s for certain: people are paying more attention to their security online and companies have been forced to evaluate their potential weaknesses. They should be, at least.

MORE: Who ARE These People? Sony Hack Reveals ‘Seinfeld’ as Most Popular Password