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."
"Now they know what Lulz are," an Anonymous Twitter account replied.
Read the full DHS assessment (PDF).