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LulzSec bust a blow to Anonymous? Not so fast

Taylor Armerding | March 7, 2012
Security experts say it's too early to tell how much damage has been done to the hacking groups that operate under the loose affiliation of Anonymous.

According to the US Attorney's office for the Southern District of New York, Monsegur pled guilty last August to three counts of computer hacking conspiracy, five counts of computer hacking, one count of computer hacking in furtherance of fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit access device fraud, one count of conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft. He faces a maximum sentence of 124 years and six months in prison.

All it took for him to compromise himself, Wisniewski says, was one careless mistake. "He logged into a chat room and forgot to anon himself, and that gave away his identity and other personal information."

His arrest, charges and possible sentence, says Wisniewski, was also probably more than enough to flip him to helping the FBI.

"We're all pretty soft," he says, "not the kind of guys you would confuse with mob heavies. To people like us, it's kind of scary that FBI has been able to flip people in the past and will do so again."

So, while Anonymous might try to launch a new string of attacks in retaliation for the arrests, Wisniewski also believes the day's events may also chill communication within the group.

"They may worry that there are other people on the inside feeding information to the FBI," he says, so they may anonymize themselves from others on the inside, which is possible with electronic crime."

The message is also out there that while Anonymous may gain followers and publicity with stunts like putting confidential law enforcement telephone conversations on YouTube, or with their "F--- FBI Friday" that they have been running for a year or more, that law enforcement is as tenacious as they are.

"Part of the Anonymous slogan is, 'We do not forgive. We do not forget.' Well, that's what the FBI does too," Wisniewski says.

"I think there may be something of a crisis of confidence, with the knowledge that there was a rat in their midst."


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