While most of America spent their Sunday watching the Super Bowl, the Hacktivist collective Anonymous was hard at work, hacking the website of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center and posting the personal information and Internet log in credentials of 4,000 American bank executives. According to ZDNet, the bankers on the list appear to be “”management at community banks, community credit unions and more, across the United States.”
While it is not known for certain where the information came from, there is a high possibility the list was acquired by hacking the servers of the Federal Reserve. Anonymous posted several Twitter messages taunting the government and hinted the information was released as part of Operation Last Resort; an Anonymous hacking action undertaken to force the Federal government to reform computer crime laws following the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz.
The document was also posted to Pastebin, a content sharing website that Anonymous uses to mirror all its file dumps and public statements. The Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center promptly took down the compromised webpage, but, due to the extensive amount of mirror sites on the Internet, it was too late to stop the spread of the banker’s personal data.
Anonymous has been undergoing some internal conflict as of late due to a dispute between Anonymous X-Sect, an affiliated group, and other Anonymous members, who objected to their public criticism of Operation Last Resort. Anonymous X-Sect was concerned that the operation asked people to download an encrypted file from a link on a government website. They felt this was highly suspicious and Operation Last Resort might be phishing expedition or a false flag operation designed to justify a government crackdown on Internet Freedom.
After voicing their objections to Operation Last Resort on Facebook and Twitter and asking for some input from the Anonymous community, the group was repeatedly hacked by a small group of individuals claiming to be Anonymous members. Following several days of harassment, X-Sect broke with long standing Anonymous traditions and reached out to The Inquisitr for a rare one-on-one interview to explain their concerns.
Due to the loose knit structure of Anonymous, it is difficult to verify the authenticity of any claims or actions attributed to the group. Anonymous has no leaders and no political affiliations They speak in general terms about ending censorship, sharing information to the benefit of all, and keeping the Internet free of government interference. The invisible collective expresses a strong dislike of big government, predatory capitalists, and bankers who rob from the poor to give to themselves.
Most people are not aware that the overwhelming majority of people who say they are Anonymous members are not hackers but work in a more public capacity to support the group’s activities. As a result, the hacktivist movement is being pulled in two directions. There is disagreement between the hardcore hackers who are happy to do their own thing as they see fit and the members who would like to see Anonymous develop into a more focused movement for change and progress.
As Anonymous continues to grow and cope with its own success, this latest Operation is sure to get the attention of the Federal government. So far, Anonymous is refusing to speak to the media about Sunday’s data release, and the group has relied on provocative Twitter posts to get their message to the public. It seems that after a week of internal conflict, Anonymous is back on track and doing business as usual.
There is a strong possibility Sunday’s data dump is the first stage of the retaliation Anonymous promised if the demands made by Operation Last Resort were ignored. The day chosen to release the personal information of the 4,000 bankers has a direct tie-in to the death of Aaron Swartz and the group’s complaints about his ruthless treatment by The US Prosecutor’s office.
On January 28, 2013, the House Oversight Committee sent an open letter to US Attorney General Eric Holder that was highly critical of the vagueness of the Federal computer crime laws. Intended to be a bi-partisan statement, the letter was signed by Republican Congressman, Darrell Issa, and liberal Democrat, Elijah Cummings.
The committee posed hard questions about the government’s prosecution of Aaron Swartz and asked Holder directly if Aaaron Swartz was singled out for a harsh sentence because of his Internet activism and his strong anti-SOPA campaign. Holder was given a deadline of February 4, 2013 to respond, and, on Sunday, one Anonymous @OpLast Resort tweet made it clear that the Justice Department better come up with some answers on Monday.
The next few days may yield some interesting surprises depending on how Eric Holder decides to respond to Issa and Cummings’ request and how Anonymous reacts if Holder ignores the House committee, as he has done on many other occasions.
— OpLastResort (@OpLastResort) February 4, 2013
— OpLastResort (@OpLastResort) February 4, 2013