Snowden Leak: UK Hacked Anonymous
...And may have shut down law-abiding websites in the process
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2014 3:43 PM CST
Lebanese activists wear masks as they protest against corrupt governments and corporations, in support of the Anonymous activist moment, Nov 5, 2013.   (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

(Newser) – UK intelligence once gave Anonymous and LulzSec a taste of its own medicine, hitting them with the exact kind of cyber attack they're infamous for employing, according to a new leak from Edward Snowden obtained by NBC News. A secret British intelligence outfit known as JTRIG (the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group), whose existence has never before been reported, hit an Anonymous IRC chat with a DDoS attack, a common technique that shuts down sites by overwhelming them with fake traffic. The attack was revealed in a presentation given at an NSA conference.

JTRIG also infiltrated the chat room to get info on individual hackers, infecting their computers with malware to do so. Hacking the hackers might sound like fair game, but cyber experts say the DDoS attack also may have hit innocent websites with the same ISP. And critics have raised free-speech concerns. "Targeting Anonymous and hacktivists amounts to targeting citizens for expressing their political beliefs," said hacker anthropologist Gabriella Coleman. For more of Coleman's argument, check out this column at Wired.