On the surface, the life of an Internet hacktivist sounds pretty cool. You get to go by nicknames like Anthrophobic, Toxic, or Reaper; avenge innocent victims while punishing the wicked; and get home in time for mom to make you lunch.
But here's some unsolicited career advice for would-be enemies of the state: If you're planning to embark on a life of politically motivated cyber crime, don't leave a trail of cyber crumbs behind.
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Some 16 U.S. citizens, most of them in their late teens and early 20s, found this out the hard way. Yesterday the FBI arrested this crew for their alleged roles in cyber attacks conducted under the name of Anonymous and/or Lulz Security.
Most of the arrests stemmed from attacks on PayPal, an act of revenge after PayPal withdrew its support for WikiLeaks last December (which was, of course, in response to yet another hack, the 200,000-odd confidential state department cables allegedly leaked by 21-year-old Private Bradley Manning). The other arrests were for attacks on InfraGard, a private security firm with strong ties to the federal government, and AT&T.
Ryan J. Reilly at TPM Idea lab describes how one of the alleged Anon/Lulz members, 21-year-old Scott Matthew Arciszewski of North Fort Myers, Fla., got nabbed:
First, they got the IP address of the individual who attacked the [InfraGard] website with the account "AntiSecTest" on June 21. Then they used info on the Twitter account voodooKobra which posted a "bitly" link to the vulnerability he allegedly created with the phrase "Infraguard Tampa has one hell of an exploit."
Based on the twitter info associated with the Twitter account, they visited his website at kobrascorner.com and did a Google search for his "VoodoKobra" screenname. They turned up his Wikipedia user page, which listed his real name as Scott Arciszewski. They compared his drivers license photo to the avatar on his account on hackforums.net and on his Facebook profile.
So much for being "Anonymous." Reading Arciszewski's tweet stream, he just sounds like your average, broke college kid: