July 21, 2011 at 11:56 AM ET
Hacker groups Anonymous and LulzSec, which had 16 of their alleged members arrested this week in the U.S. by the FBI, don't usually respond to statements written or made about them. But when the FBI's deputy assistant director gave an interview to NPR saying those arrests send "a message that chaos on the Internet is unacceptable," the hacking collective erupted, with a statement of its own:
We are not scared any more. 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.
In the NPR interview that aired Wednesday, Steven Chabinsky, of the FBI said that even if "hackers can be believed to have social causes, it's entirely unacceptable to break into websites and commit unlawful acts."
Feds arrested 14 of the 16 Tuesday on charges tied to last December's attacks on PayPal as retribution for dropping WikiLeaks' donation account. Another two were arrested on charges related to intrusion and theft from computer systems at InfraGard, which has an IT contract with the federal government, and from AT&T.
The FBI's arrests took place in several states, including Alabama, Arizona, California, Colorado, the District of Columbia, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico and Ohio.
Arrests, too, were made by the UK's Metropolitan Police Service and the Dutch National Police Agency in connection with the alleged cyber crimes.
In the U.S., Anonymous and LulzSec have taken credit for recent hacks and sharing of information from sites affiliated with the FBI, as well as from Arizona law enforcement, and the private groups they groups deem to be corrupt.
Chabinsky said in the NPR interview that despite the groups' contention that their hacking is politically motivated, "hactivism" could lead to more dangerous activities if organized crime or terrorist groups get involved.
"There has not been a large-scale trend toward using hacking to actually destroy websites, (but) that could be appealing to both criminals or terrorists," he said. "That's where the 'hacktivism,' even if currently viewed by some as a nuisance, shows the potential to be destabilizing."
Anonymous teamed up with the LulzSec group in June to announce its "AntiSec," anti-security, effort. It's believed LulzSec members were already affiliated with Anonymous. LulzSec has breached websites of Sony, the CIA and a British police unit, and on Monday took credit for defacing Rupert Murdoch's Sun newspaper website. On Thursday, Anonymous took credit for hacking restricted NATO files.
On the file-sharing PasteBin website the hackers often use to post various statements, as well as files they have hacked, Anonymous said this, in part:
Now let us be clear here, Mr. Chabinsky, while we understand that you and your colleagues may find breaking into websites unacceptable, let us tell you what WE find unacceptable:
- Governments lying to their citizens and inducing fear and terror to keep them in control by dismantling their freedom piece by piece.
- Corporations aiding and conspiring with said governments while taking advantage at the same time by collecting billions of funds for federal contracts we all know they can't fulfil.
- Lobby conglomerates who only follow their agenda to push the profits higher, while at the same time being deeply involved in governments around the world with the only goal to infiltrate and corrupt them enough so the status quo will never change.
"These governments and corporations are our enemy," the group said. "And we will continue to fight them, with all methods we have at our disposal, and that certainly includes breaking into their websites and exposing their lies."