What we learned from Anonymous

Now that the hacktivist group's leader has turned snitch, Anonymous ain't so anonymous any more. But it taught us all some valuable lessons (we hope)

This just in: It appears that calling yourself Anonymous doesn't make it so and calling your colleagues "brothers" doesn't make them family.

Yesterday, the Anonowalls came tumbling down as the feds arrested six people it labels the "principal members" of Anonymous and LulzSec. You can bet the folks at HBGary, Sony, PayPal, the Church of Scientology, and the many other victims of Anonymous are off somewhere drinking champagne at this moment.

[ Anonymous may be down for the count, but organizations need to keep up their defenses, as Stratfor Global and Heartland Institute can attest. | For a humorous take on the tech industry's shenanigans, subscribe to Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter. | Get the latest insight on the tech news that matters from InfoWorld's Tech Watch blog. ]

This is hardly the first time the Anons have heard the battering ram at the door. After 14 members were arrested last July, the hacktivist collective issued the following statement, long on bravado if short on specifics:

Your threats to arrest us are meaningless to us as you cannot arrest an idea. Any attempt to do so will make your citizens more angry until they will roar in one gigantic choir. It is our mission to help these people and there is nothing -- absolutely nothing -- you can possibly to do make us stop.

The problem with that logic: You don't need to arrest an idea. You just need to arrest those who are spreading the idea, especially if the method they use to spread the idea violates federal laws. And once that idea -- er, person is arrested, he very well might roll over and turn snitch.

Such as it is with Hector Xavier Monsegur, better known to Netizens as "Sabu," one of the alleged ringleaders of Anonymous and its LulzSec offshoot. After receiving a surprise visit from the G-men in June 2011, Sabu saw the writing on the prison wall and decided to cooperate in taking down his colleagues.

(What's ironic here is that the whole "you can't arrest an idea" response came a month after Sabu had his come-to-Jesus meeting with the feds. That's gotta burn.)

Ars Technica has a fascinating story of how the feds took down one of Sabu's alleged co-conspirators, Jeremy Hammond -- aka "anarchaos," "sup_g," burn," "yohoho," "POW" "tylerknowsthis" and "crediblethreat" -- by piecing together disparate facts associated with his various hacker handles.

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