US indicts 13 suspected Anonymous hackers for WikiLeaks revenge attacks

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US indicts 13 suspected Anonymous hackers for WikiLeaks revenge attacks
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US indicts 13 suspected Anonymous hackers for WikiLeaks revenge attacks

A federal grand jury this week indicted 13 members of the "hacktivist" group Anonymous on charges of orchestrating a series of cyber attacks across the globe. As Reuters reports, the 13 suspects were allegedly involved with Anonymous' "Operation Payback" scheme, originally launched in 2010 as retaliation for the shutdown of the Pirate Bay file sharing site. The operation also included distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against credit card companies and financial institutions that refused to process payments for WikiLeaks, in the wake of the secret-spilling organization's publication of 250,000 classified US diplomatic cables (an incident known as "Cablegate").

"Operation Payback" targeted major finance companies

The names of the 13 suspects have not been released, though they live in 13 different US states and range in age from 21 to 65. A grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia indicted them Thursday on charges of conspiring to intentionally damage protected computers. According to the indictment, the group launched attacks from September 2010 to January 2011, using software known as Low Orbit Ion Cannon to carry out their DDoS attacks. Companies affected by the attack include Bank of America, Visa, and MasterCard, as well as the Library of Congress, US Copyright Office, and Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

A British court last year convicted four members of Anonymous on charges of conspiring to attack major financial sites and trade organizations as part of Operation Payback. According to the court, their attacks cost British music trade groups an estimated $5.6 million.

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