More than 30 people have been arrested in Spain and Turkey charged with hacking and being part of the Anonymous group.
Spanish police announced on Twitter that it had arrested ‘three leaders of the Anonymous group' in Barcelona, Alicante and Almeria. According to police sources, the alleged Anonymous members were decision makers and were involved in recent attacks. Also, police agents have seized one of the servers used in many of the attacks in Gijon in northern Spain.
Officers were reported as saying that the three detainees had been involved in attacks on the websites of Sony PlayStation, several banks, an electricity company and the governments of Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Colombia and New Zealand.
Luis Corrons, technical director of Spanish anti-virus firm PandaLabs, congratulated the Spanish police for the arrests. He said: “We are all glad to see law enforcement efforts finally paying off and stopping criminals from getting away with their crimes. However, I am very much afraid that the fact that the ‘main leaders of the Anonymous group' in Spain are now under arrest does not mean the group will cease its activities.
“We must bear in mind that Anonymous is a highly anarchic organisation with no strict hierarchy. I am sure these people have taken part in the attacks, as claimed by the police, but there is no evidence that they are actually the leaders of the group. Remember that Anonymous makes decisions collectively and they normally set actions and objectives through forums and general voting.”
He predicted ‘some kind of retaliation actions from Anonymous', as they are used to getting away with their actions and these arrests are surely very bad news for them.
The Guardian reported that Spain's main police website was knocked offline over the weekend in an apparent revenge attack.
It said that Anonymous had also launched attacks on the Catalan regional police, a Spanish trade union and the country's electoral administration, according to police.
Anonymous said that it had launched a ‘successful' distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against the Spanish National Police website. It said that the attack is a direct response to the Friday arrests of three individuals alleged to be associated with acts of cyber civil disobedience attributed to Anonymous.
It said: “Greetings Spanish government. We know you have heard of us; we are Anonymous. It has come to our attention that you deemed it necessary to arrest three of our fellow anons, which you claim to be the leaders of Anonymous and for their participation in DDoS attacks against various websites.
“First and foremost, DDoSing is an act of peaceful protest on the internet. The activity is no different than sitting peacefully in front of a shop denying entry. Just as is the case with traditional forms of protest.
“Regardless of how many times you are told, you refuse to understand. There are no leaders of Anonymous. Anonymous is not based on personal distinction. Arresting somebody for taking part in a DDoS attack is exactly like arresting somebody for attending a peaceful demonstration in their hometown. Anonymous believes this right to peacefully protest is one of the fundamental pillars of any democracy.
“You have not detained three participants of Anonymous. We have no members and we are not a group of any kind. You have, however, detained three civilians expressing themselves. You are providing us with the fuel, but now you must expect the fire.”
Reports have also emerged that 32 people have been detained by Turkish police in connection with internet attacks that have disrupted access to government websites. These people were rounded up in 12 cities, including Ankara and Istanbul in an attack that was dubbed ‘Operation Turkey' at the end of last week.
Anonymous supporters brought down Turkish government websites in protest against controversial plans by the authorities in the country to introduce internet filtering.
According to eltiempo.com, the arrests follow a campaign against planned internet filtering to allow families to restrict access to pages deemed harmful to their children. It said that most Turkish users fear that this initiative will make it more difficult to access the internet in a country where there are already more than 13,000 web pages blocked, most of them illegal, but also many political blogs or leftist movements.
Anonymous responded with a statement, saying that it had ‘launched a successful DDoS attack against the Turkish government, taking down several official government websites'.
It said: “To the citizens of Turkey. We are Anonymous. Over the last few years, we have witnessed the censorship taken by the Turkish government, such as blocking YouTube, Rapidshare, Fileserve and thousands of other websites. Most recently, the government banned access to Google services.
“These acts of censorship are inexcusable. The internet is a platform for freedom, a place where anyone and everyone can come together, discuss topics and share information, without the fear of government interference.
“We, Anonymous, will not stand by and let this go unnoticed. We will fight with the Turkish people against their government's rain of censorship. Citizens of Turkey, Anonymous now fights with you.”
Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos, said: “The sites were brought down by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, with different computers around the world being deployed to bombard the sites with traffic using the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) attack tool.
“However, LOIC doesn't do a very good job of covering your tracks, making it potentially easy for computer crime authorities to track those behind the attacks.
My guess is that those who took part in the attacks are not in such a celebratory mood now that the Turkish authorities appear to have identified some of them.
“It certainly wouldn't be a surprise to hear about a retaliatory attack against Turkish websites also following these arrests.”