Hacker group Anonymous denies Sony’s accusations that it waged the massive data breach of the PlayStation Network in an attempt to steal members’ credit card data. Instead, says self-appointed Anonymous spokesman Barrett Brown, any evidence that Anonymous was involved is the work of its enemies trying to frame the infamous group.
“Whoever broke into Sony’s servers to steal the credit card info and left a document blaming Anonymous clearly wanted Anonymous to be blamed for the most significant digital theft in history. No one who is actually associated with our movement would do something that would prompt a massive law enforcement response,” writes Brown in a press release published Wednesday afternoon. “On the other hand, a group of standard online thieves would have every reason to frame Anonymous in order to put law enforcement off the track. The framing of others for crimes has been a common practice throughout history.
Late Wednesday, Sony published its letter in response to an inquiry from a Congressional subcommittee about the PSN breach, which claimed that the company had found two files on their system, one labeled “Anonymous,” and another “We Are Legion,” a well-known Anonymous slogan.
While the elusive hackers take credit for a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on Sony for its lawsuit against PlayStation 3 hacker George “GeoHot” Hotz, a campaign known as “OpSony,” Anonymous has repeatedly repudiated the notion that it played any role in the PSN breach.
Sony, on the other hand, asserts that even if they didn’t mean to, Anonymous aided whomever conducted he “highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack” on its network by distracting Sony’s security team with the DDoS campaign — even though Anon’s DDoS campaign was officially called off before the breach on April 19.
“Whether those who participated in the denial of services attacks were conspirators or whether they were simply duped into providing cover for a very clever thief, we may never know,” writes Sony’s board chairman Kazuo Hirai in the company’s letter to the Congressional Subcommittee on Commerce Manufacturing and Trade. “In any case, those who participated in the denial of serve attacks should understand that – whether they knew it or not – they were aiding a well planned, well executed, large-scale theft that left not only Sony a victim, but also Sony’s many customers around the world.”
Anonymous, who has waged campaigns against a wide variety of corporate and governmental targets around the world, says that, “If a legitimate and honest investigation into credit card theft is conducted, Anonymous will not be found liable.”
“While we are a distributed and decentralized group, our ‘leadership’ does not condone credit card theft,” wrote Anon’s Brown in the press release. “We are concerned with the erosion of privacy and fair use, the spread of corporate feudalism, the abuse of power and the justifications of executives and leaders who believe themselves immune personally and financially for the actions the undertake in the name of corporations and public office.”
So, is Anonymous guilt, or not? As of yet, no good answer to this question has made itself clear, if it exists at all. It’s important to remember that Anonymous is a broad, loose-knit group that has no central leadership. Anyone can call themselves Anonymous, and do whatever they please under that banner. But still, credit card theft does not match the anti-corporation, anti-opressive government goals that the group has historically embraced. That’s not to say everyone who dubbs themselves “Anonymous” is innocent, but it’s difficult to truthfully implicate the group as a whole, whoever they are.