Last week, members of the Lulz Security (LulzSec) faction of the Anonymous collective (a computer hacker group widely associated with acts of international “hacktivism”) were arrested and charged with hacking-related offenses. The LulzSec group has claimed responsibility for several high-profile digital attacks, and the arrested members are currently accused of hijacking email accounts and stealing “information—including passwords,” from Fox Broadcasting, PBS, and global intelligence firm Stratfor.
Though Interpol’s arrest of 25 members is news in and of itself, the real revelation in the story came when it was discovered that the leader of LulzSec, Hector Xavier Monsegur, known by the username Sabu, collaborated with the FBI and was instrumental in facilitating the mass arrest. Though members have expressed shock and distress at Sabu’s actions, it is questionable whether these feelings will leave them down for the count.
The FBI claims that the arrested members were vital to LulzSec operation, but Anonymous downplays the effect the arrests will have on the collective. “People get arrested from Anonymous all the time,” says one member to CNET. However, Cole Stryker, an author who writes about Anonymous, asserts that “it will be difficult for Anons to work collaboratively now that their ranks are undoubtedly infiltrated by feds.”
I doubt that either Anonymous or LulzSec will lay dormant to lick its wounds, and the fact that members of Anonymous have already come together to hack Spanish security firm Panda Labs in protest of the arrests further supports Anonymous’ claim that it remains unaffected. Anonymous is simply so large and amorphous that even large-scale arrests fail to have a concrete effect on the group’s actions. Like it or hate it, hacktivism is here to stay.