A Department of Homeland Security threat assessment released publicly this week labels hackers with the online protest group “Anonymous” as possessing only “rudimentary” hacking skills, calling them “script kiddies” who use exploits created by others to break into secured systems.
However, the department warns that a more talented faction of Anonymous hackers, who split off recently to form “LulzSec,” exhibit more “creativity” in their attacks and could become a more serious threat if a “higher-level actor” provided them with “more advanced capabilities.”
While noting that Anonymous or LulzSec have not reached a level of sophistication that could threaten “critical infrastructure,” the department goes on to add that their releases of “sensitive” information “have the potential to result in serious harm, particularly to Law Enforcement and other Federal, State and Local Government personnel who may be targeted as a result.”
Finally, the department’s assessment recognizes both groups for what they have repeatedly claimed to be: political and social activists.
“Future attacks are likely to continue but will likely remain limited in scope due to a lack of advanced capabilities,” the report says. “These attacks are also likely to target the federal government and critical infrastructure sectors, particularly in response to publicized events relating to civil liberties, cyber security, or allegations of censorship (online or otherwise).”
Interestingly, the report also tries to identify the orgin of “lulz” on the Internet, and pinpoints message board 4Chan and the “Oh Internet” wiki as creating the concept of laughing at the victim of a prank — a detail that undoubtedly amused more than a few so-called “script kiddies.”
Stephen C. Webster is the senior editor of Raw Story, and is based out of Austin, Texas. He previously worked as the associate editor of The Lone Star Iconoclast in Crawford, Texas, where he covered state politics and the peace movement’s resurgence at the start of the Iraq war. Webster has also contributed to publications such as True/Slant, Austin Monthly, The Dallas Business Journal, The Dallas Morning News, Fort Worth Weekly, The News Connection and others. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenCWebster.
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