Anonymous "day of action" hacking returns

The hacker group Anonymous is back at it again, raising online mayhem with government and law enforcement websites in what they referred to as a “day of action” on Friday. In one of the more embarrassing incidents, the FBI was on a phone call with Scotland Yard, discussing ways to combat the group. Anonymous responded by publishing a recording of the call.

Perpetual gadflies Anonymous released a recording between agents at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Scotland Yard on Friday in which the two agencies discuss anti-hacking operations.

The FBI issued a statement acknowledging that the call is valid, saying that a criminal investigation is underway, The Washington Post’s Ellen Nakashima reported.

In a statement to the Guardian, Scotland Yard also confirmed the call was real, saying that “no operational risks to the [Metropolitan Police Service] have been identified.”

The “hactivists” were also up to their usual tricks in taking down web sites. When the Department of Justice announced they were going after them, they promptly hacked their web site. The Greek Ministry of Justice went down shortly after. And since they are apparently big supporters of the Occupy movement, when the Boston PD moved to evict the squatters, their web site was promptly replaced with some Twitter hash tags, a rap video, and the following message.

“Is that it? Hell no, there is plenty more mayhem to deliver for this #F—FBIFriday. Do you remember a few months ago when #antisec attaked the Boston Police and released hundred of passwords in retaliation for the brutality against Occupy Boston? They clearly ignored our warnings, because not only did they raid the camp again and kicked protesters off of public parks, but they also sent undercover TSA agents to assualt and attempt to steal from some organizers. So you get your kicks beating protesters? That’s OK; we get kicks defacing and rm’n your websites – again., the “Boston Poice Department Virtual Community” also fell to the swift merciless veangeance of the hive. Do you really want to step to this??”

While government and law enforcement at all levels do an impressive job combating crime in the real world, it seems like they are perpetually a number of steps behind in the virtual one. Technology simply advances too fast, and the geeks around the globe are the ones on the cutting edge, leaving officials to play catch-up. And this isn’t a problem with any easy or obvious solutions. Trying to hire the best and brightest in the computer world to come to work for the government is always going to be difficult since such positions don’t tend to pay anywhere near the lucrative salaries they can earn in the private sector.

Unfortunately, this also highlights another danger facing us today. The pranks of these hackers seeking to make a political statement are a nuisance to be sure, but that’s nothing compared to the damage which could come from a serious terrorist cyber-attack. Iran has already felt the sting of such operations – much to our benefit – but a successful strike against the United States could, in theory, take down large portions of the power grid, related infrastructure networks and even our national defense capabilities. This is one scenario which you can bet keeps people up at night in Washington.