FBI granted 40 search warrants in Anonymous DDoS investigation

Just on the heels of the arrest of 5 Anonymous members in the UK on Thursday, the US Federal Bureau of Investigation was granted 40 search warrants in connection with DDoS attacks that occurred against several major US corporations during the past year.

While the press release issued on Thursday by the FBI did not exclusively state which incidents the bureau is investigating, the warrants likely stem from Anonymous “Operation Avenge Assange” cyber-attacks on MasterCard, Visa, Paypal, and other corporations that refused to process WikiLeaks related transactions after US diplomatic cables were released on the internet by the organization in early December.

According to the FBI press release, several investigations into Anonymous activities are taking place around the world:

“The FBI is working closely with its international law enforcement partners and others to mitigate these threats. Authorities in the Netherlands, Germany, and France have also taken their own investigative and enforcement actions. The National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA) also is providing assistance. The NCFTA is a public-private partnership that works to identify, mitigate, and neutralize cyber crime. The NCFTA has advised that software from any untrustworthy source represents a potential threat and should be removed. Major Internet security (anti-virus) software providers have instituted updates so they will detect the so-called ‘Low Orbit Ion Canon’ tools used in these attacks.”

Also on Thursday, Anonymous members will still hard at work planning and carrying out current and future DDoS strikes. According to a blog post from James Cowie of Renesys, ISP traffic in Egypt was cut off from the rest of the world by the nation’s government after Anonymous attacks commenced in protest of government oppression. In addition, a warning was issued by Anonymous to the British government stating that DDoS attacks may be forthcoming if charges are levied against the 5 group members arrested.

The FBI is warning the public that participating in DDoS attacks is an illegal act that is punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Interestingly enough, as MyCE commenter getit29 pointed out yesterday, there seems to be no legal ramifications for the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), which launched their own set of DDoS attacks last year before the Anonymous retaliation attacks. There seems to be a double-standard forming in this case.

At this point, Anonymous members don’t seem to be deterred by the legal action, and I doubt that they will halt their activities despite the ongoing FBI investigation. We’ll be reporting as new events in this case occur. Stay tuned to MyCE for the latest.