After the FBI said their investigations into, and subsequent arrests of, several Anonymous supports led to the dismantling of the loosely associative group and a decline in their activities, Anonymous responds by leaking thousands of compromised records.
Austin Berglas, the assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's cyber division in New York, told Huffington Post last week that the agency dismantled Anonymous' leadership, leading to a drop in action from the multi-faceted collective.
"The movement is still there, and they're still [yakking] on Twitter and posting things, but you don't hear about these guys coming forward with those large breaches. It's just not happening, and that's because of the dismantlement of the largest players...," Berglas said.
As recorded on Twitter, the public voice for many Anons, the initial reaction was laughter. One commenter compared the claim to President George W. Bush's "Mission Accomplished" moment. Another shared his thoughts with an image that resonated with dozens of Anons and supporters - a picture of Tom Cruise laughing.
But for those who watch Anonymous and their interactions with law enforcement, including Gabriella Coleman, an anthropologist whose work focuses on hackers and activism, the FBI's statements came as no surprise.
"The FBI and transgressive hackers have long been locked in a battle of taunts although hackers have a lot more leeway in expressing their true feelings when they want and how they want to. The FBI has been awfully careful and restrained in their statements about LulzSec and Anonymous and it seems like someone finally just broke down and spoke their mind," Coleman explained to CSO, when asked for her thoughts on the incident.
At the same time, she added, it was a big deal to nab many of the LulzSec and a few of the AntiSec hackers. In 2011, especially early on in the summer months, the two groups ran roughshod over the networks of law enforcement, government contractors, and private business. It was only a matter of time before someone was arrested for their actions, or relation to those committing them.
"Nevertheless, despite the mantra that LulzSec was composed of 6 individuals, there were more participants. My sense is that some have receded into the shadows to refuel and do work more discretely. The most recent hack was just a reminder that they are still around and can spring into action if need be," Coleman said.
With the FBI's apparent challenge issued, Anonymous responded by releasing several documents, with thousands of lines of personal information. Adding insult to injury, the collective used a restaurant's compromised website, Texas' The Federal Grill, to host them.
The restaurant was unknowingly mirroring the leaked data for days before someone took action and removed the files. Calls to the restaurant itself confirmed that most of the staff were unaware of the incident.
Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.