The U.S. government has unsealed an indictment against 13 alleged members of the loose-knit hacker organization Anonymous, for attempts to take down websites operated by MasterCard, Visa, Bank of America, the Motion Picture Association of America, and others.
Those Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks were made as part of a campaign that Anonymous called Operation Payback, which ran from September 2010 until early 2011.
Visa and MasterCard were said to have been included because they had ceased processing payments to Wikileaks, the controversial online publisher of confidential and top secret files from government agencies and corporations.
Experts are divided about the possible ramifications of the indictments handed down Thursday in federal court in Alexandria, Va.
Trusteer security expert George Tubin said, “Probably there will be blowback from the Anonymous indictments. They typically like retribution for attacks on them.”
Another expert pointed to the diffuse nature of the Anonymous organization and said that, in his view, there likely will be no retaliatory attacks.
“This is 13 members from events back in 2010. I think that organization is probably very different now,” said this expert, who indicated he had learned not to put himself or his security company in the crosshairs of Anonymous and requested anonymity.
The IT vice president at one of the nation’s largest credit unions shared that opinion: “I don’t think we will see much from Anonymous on this. The people indicted probably aren’t the masterminds and more than likely rolled over as soon as they were threatened with taking the punishment for all those who haven’t been caught.” He too requested anonymity.
Similarly, a much fretted about May 7th DDoS assault by Anonymous on the nation’s banks and credit unions amounted to absolutely nothing, despite much teeth gnashing by trade groups and government officials,
Bottom line: as always Anonymous is not an organization to ignore – but it is highly unpredictable and that is a fact that should not be forgotten, the experts said.