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)

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Interestingly, the feds sat by and watched as Hammond pwned Stratfor, the "global intelligence agency" that is perhaps not quite as sinister and powerful as originally reported here and elsewhere, posted thousands of its subscribers' credit card numbers online, and spent half a million of its dollars on charitable donations. I'm guessing the FBI does not have much use for Stratfor.

Anonymous responded to the arrests by hacking the website of antivirus vendor Panda Security and posting a bitter diatribe that read in part:

Yeah yeah, we know, Sabu snitched on us. As usually happens FBI menaced him to take his sons away. We understand, but we were your family too. (Remember what you liked to say?)... It's sad and we can't imagine how it feels having to look at the mirror each morning and see there the guy who shopped their friends to police.

Does this mean the Anonymous movement is dead? No. But I wouldn't bet on any spectacular hacking response to these arrests. If I were a "brother" of Sabu's, I'd be taking a long vacation from my keyboard. Perhaps new hackers will rise to take the place of Sabu and anarchaos -- until they get arrested.

Fact is, most of the Anons were not exactly hacking masterminds. Some exploited well-established vulnerabilities that should have been patched but weren't. The others were just script kiddies. But you might well argue that Anonymous has done a service to the corporate community by proving, at relatively low cost to most of them, how insecure and shoddy their practices really are.

Good-bye for now, Anonymous. I'll miss you, if for no other reason than your exploits make for excellent blog fodder. As for the rest of the InterWebs? Probably not so much.

Is Anonymous really dead? Post your thoughts below or email me: cringe@infoworld.com.

This article, "What we learned from Anonymous," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

Copyright © 2012 IDG Communications, Inc.

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