25 alleged members of the Anonymous hacktivist collective have been arrested in Europe and South America as part of “Operation Unmask”, with retaliation coming in the form of a DDOS attack taking down Interpol’s own website, which briefly took the website down yesterday.
A statement by Interpol said that arrests were made in Argentina, Chile, Colombia and Spain, with the international police force noting its success in the operation launched just a couple of weeks ago after the websites of Columbian Defence Ministry and President, and the Chilean Library were hacked allegedly by the Guy Fawkes mask wearing group. The arrests were carried out by authorities in each country with the support of Interpol’s American Working Group of Experts on Information Technology Crime – a group set up to help with cross-border hacking activities that are notoriously difficult to prosecute due to jurisdictional difficulties.
Along with the arrests, the police seized 250 items of computer technology equipment and mobile phones during the 40 searches across 15 cities. Pre-paid payment cards were also seized in an attempt to discover how the illegal hacktivities have been funded by those arrested who range in age from 17 to 40.
In a statement, Interpol’s Director of Police Services, Bernd Rossbach said
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.
You can’t help but wonder if police time might not be better spent investigating the alleged corruption and moral crimes perpetrated by those Anonymous have targeted around the world rather than focusing on those DDOS-ing a few sites, but that is a different matter. Those talented hackers leading this group and others like it need to be embraced for their skillset and brought within the establishment to put them to more effective use, not make them sit in jail which tends to result in deeper criminal links.
[Image courtesy of Vincent Diamante]