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FBI raids hacker group Anonymous

The ideological hacker group "Anonymous" is apparently not so. The FBI arrested 16 people, in what appears to be a nationwide crackdown on the hacking group infamous for attacking the Church of Scientology and breaking into networks of military contractors.

News of the arrests in California, New Jersey and Florida was first reported today by Fox News and CBS News.

An FBI spokesman said agents seized computers at one address in Brooklyn and three on Long Island. Fourteen of the arrests were identified in the same indictment. Two separate criminal complaints were also filed out of courts in Newark, N.J., and Tampa, Fla., and named two other alleged hackers.

All the hackers arrested are believed to have been involved in carrying out coordinated distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on multiple high-profile, billion-dollar companies, Fox reported.

The government raids counter recent cyber-offensives by Anonymous, a loosely organized group by most definitions. An associated group, LulzSec launched the first-ever hack of a major UK website last night when News International websites The Times and the Sun, began directing traffic towards another page that claimed Rupert Murdoch had died. Just last week members claimed credit for outing email address and passwords of more than 90,000 military personnel after breaking into networks belonging to Booz Allen Hamilton, a military contracting heavyweight. 

In June, Anonymous was labeled a cyberterrorism group by the Arizona Department of Public Safety after the group attacked Arizona police union websites. In December, it claimed credit for disrupting the websites of Visa and Mastercard when the credit card companies stopped processing donations to WikiLeaks, the AP reported.

Perhaps the group grew over-confident. Anonymous members appear to have put little effort into concealing their tracks, Josh Shaul, CTO of Application Security Inc. told Computerworld. "It seems like these folks who got caught were brazen and careless about the way they went about their hacking activity."

But the big challenge to law enforcement is the decentralized nature of groups like Anonymous and associates like LulzSec, who use proxy servers, so authorities have to cast a particularly "wide net to get any traction," ZDNet reported.