There’s little question that our online security, our digital well-being as it were, has come under attack these past few months, with hacker organizations conducting brazen attacks on both corporate and government sites; stealing information and leaving a trail of virtual destruction in their wakes.
Like many of the writers here at TheTelecomblog, I have long questioned the response of law enforcement agencies that seem ill-equipped to handle this cyber-crisis, as it has seemed like hackers are far more advanced then even our best online security measures.
That said, the FBI launched a coordinated attack on the popular hacker commune Anonymous, a move that that conjunction with authorities from Britain and the Netherlands collared some 21 people. But will these arrests stop the wave of cyber-attacks? Don’t bet on it.
One might say that hacking has become an epidemic this summer, as it seems that no one is safe from the likes of Anonymous or LulzSec (the hacker group that recently called it quits, only to resurface a few short weeks later). From popular technology companies like Sony and Nintendo to government databases around the world, it’s become clear that our online security measures are both antiquated and insufficient to combat this threat.
That said, there’s little question that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies around the world consider this most recent sting a success, as they have shown that they can find these hackers no matter how anonymous they may think they are. But the question remains, who has the FBI really found?
The truth is, as victories go, this one is most likely symbolic, a gesture to the hacking community that the police can—and perhaps will—find you, while the reality is that this action will likely do little to stem the tide of hacker attacks. In fact, analysts speculate that it’s incredibly unlikely that any of the 21 hackers arrested are of any true import in the Anonymous hacker network, with them more likely being small fish.
But while such arrests in the past may have driven normal gang or mob leaders underground in attempt to wait out the heat, things are much different in this technological age. In fact, I would wager a guess that the core leadership group of the Anonymous hackers are so well-trained and well-equipped that law enforcement really has no chance to find them, a fact that the hackers themselves know all to well.
So what does this mean? In a word, “retribution.” Don’t be surprised if rather than being intimidated by these arrests, the hacker attacks become even more brazen, perhaps focusing on the FBI and other agencies responsible. While I’m sure the FBI will think it’s ready to defend itself, it’s likely not, as these hacker communes have shown they are so adept at covering their tracks that they can tell companies they’re being hacked, and still get away with it.
In the end, I have to give credit where credit is due, applauding the FBI and others for their work to keep the online world safe, but its likely not enough to offer us any real safety.