In a further protest over the death of Aaron Schwartz, Anonymous hit the websites of the US Department of Justice and Sentencing Commission at the weekend, with a threat to leak sensitive information.
Under the title ‘Operation Last Resort', Anonymous said that it has prepared content that it would like to share with the world, with keys and details posted on Pastebin.
A video was placed on the front page of the websites, saying that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago, "a line was crossed".
Its video message read: “Anonymous immediately convened an emergency council to discuss our response to this tragedy. After much heavy-hearted discussion, the decision was upheld to engage the United States Department of Justice and its associated executive branches in a game of a similar nature, a game in which the only winning move is not to play.
“With Aaron's death we can wait no longer. The time has come to show the United States Department of Justice and its affiliates the true meaning of infiltration. The time has come to give this system a taste of its own medicine. The time has come for them to feel the helplessness and fear that comes with being forced into a game where the odds are stacked against them.
“Through this website and various others that will remain unnamed, we have been conducting our own infiltration. We did not restrict ourselves like the FBI to one high-profile compromise. We are far more ambitious, and far more capable. Over the last two weeks we have wound down this operation, removed all traces of leakware from the compromised systems, and taken down the injection apparatus used to detect and exploit vulnerable machines.”
It warned that an AES-256 encrypted file has been quietly distributed to numerous mirrors over the last few days, and is available for download.
Jim Walter, manager of the McAfee Threat Intelligence Service for the Office of the CTO, said: “This release is the referred-to ‘warhead'–specifically ‘Warhead-US-DOJ-LEA-2013.AEE256'. The ‘trigger key' referred to in the video is the decryption key for the content. Anonymous also indicated that it will, at some interval, release heavily redacted previews of the decrypted content. As of this writing, these have not emerged. We have, however, seen some fake decryption keys making the rounds.”
Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the criminal, cyber, response and services branch at the FBI, said in a statement that "we were aware as soon as it happened and are handling it as a criminal investigation. We are always concerned when someone illegally accesses another person's or government agency's network".