To top off the recent Anonymous news, it looks like members of the hacktivist group have been snared in a trap laid by Interpol. According to the International Criminal Police Organization, 25 alleged members of Anonymous have been rounded up from Europe and Latin America.
In a release from Interpol, the suspects’ ages were found to range from 17 to 40. The release also says that the arrests of the alleged anons took place in the countries of Argentina, Chile, Columbia and Spain by national law enforcement. The individuals are specifically suspected of a series of cyber attacks against Columbia’s presidential and ministry websites, Chile’s national library, the Endesa electricity company and various other targets.
Interpol, headquartered in Lyon, France, does not make its own arrests. Instead, the organization helps national law-enforcement agencies connect to an international wealth of crime-fighting data. The recent arrests are a product of Interpol’s “Operation Unmask.”
Apparently, the ongoing investigation began mid-February and led to the seizure of 250 items of IT equipment as well as a number of mobile phones. Interpol says the equipment haul comes from from police raids of 40 premises in 15 cities. Along with the equipment, authorities have seized cash and credit cards.
“This operation shows that crime in the virtual world does have real consequences for those involved, and that the Internet cannot be seen as a safe haven for criminal activity, no matter where it originates or where it is targeted,” said acting executive director of Police Services, Bernd Rossbach.
An AP report confirmed some of Interpol’s numbers. Among the 25, Spain has announced that four have been arrested and suspected of being connected to cyber attacks on political party websites. Chile’s Subprefect Jamie Jara, confirmed in a news conference that five Chileans and a Colombian have been arrested (two being 17-year-olds). However, Columbia’s Judicial Police commander says that no hackers related to Operation Unmask has been arrested in Columbia itself. Lastly, Argentina hasn’t released anything official, but an Argentine websites seem to reporting that 10 Anonymous suspects have been detained.
The Interpol website has gone down shortly after the announcement, and is currently still down — seemingly in response to Interpol’s triumphant press release. Though not confirmed as a DDoS attack, @Anon_Support, the Twitter account associated with the Nazi Leaks effort, rallied the troops to “FIRE! FIRE! FIRE!” at interpol.int; @AnonymousIRC and @AnonBRNews tweeted that the Interpol site was Tango Down.
The recent sweep of reported Anonymous arrests seems to be the largest number so far. Last year, the FBI arrested two suspected anonymous members in September. Scotland Yard also nabbed two hackers in the same month. Italy also reported 15 suspected hacker arrests last year; action which resulted in retaliation on the Italian cyber police’s servers.
The attacks on Anonymous arrests closely follow the Wikileaks release of “The Global Intelligence Files,” a cache of millions of emails stolen by Antisec from global intelligence firm Stratfor in December of last year. The emails, which have been denied by Stratfor, detail a network of corporate spying. Stratfor is only the most recent enemy Anonymous has made.
Along with the private sector, Government authorities bear no love for the Hacktivist group. Earlier this month, the US government pumped out warnings that Anonymous would soon attack key national infrastructure, like US’ electrical grid. The warnings by the NSA were based on the large number of DDoS attacks on .gov websites.