Anonymous and law enforcement: unlikely allies

Last week, a UK Anon within Anonymous hacked the white power website Aryan-Front.com. He left a message on the home page, “Hacked by Anonymous”; and he took away large swathes of the content. Yesterday it emerged that German Federal police raided 24 addresses in 11 German states (a further address in the UK was also raided but with little information yet available), reports The Local. “Federal police confiscated several computers and external hard-drives as well as handwritten documents from people believed to be... connected to the Thaizi website – a platform used by rightwing extremists to contact each other and, most notably, share racist music.”

It would seem that Anonymous and LEAs share a similar target: white power fascist/nazi sites

Anonymous also has a long-running campaign against pedophile sites. It came back to life last month with the Pastebin announcement, “As our first official attack for #OpDarknetV2, we bring you something that we are sure you will enjoy. One of our members managed to find an SQL injection vuln on a pedophile onion website that goes by the name of Kindzazachan, he breached the servers, and now we bring you the leak of data from the website. We warned you pedos, we told you we were coming for you.” Yesterday, UK national centre for child protection announced that it will publish a new report on child abuse image possession offenders and the direct risk they pose to children. 

It would seem that Anonymous and LEAs share a another similar target: pedophile sites.

But while there are similarities in destinations, there are very different routes, and different results. “Anonymous doesn’t have different values,” Winston Smith, the voice of an Anonymous group called the ATeam, told Infosecurity. “But we have a technical expertise that police forces don’t possess.” 

Almost in support of this, an MSN report yesterday describes the FBI’s acknowledged inability to penetrate the dark net to find and deal with a reported pedophile site called TSChan – an inability not shared by Anonymous. But Anonymous has another advantage. “We’re not limited by the laws that might apply to national Police Forces, and we can work cohesively internationally to expose pedophiles and extremists,” said Smith.

But there is also a second difference between the two ‘forces’. Law enforcement will publicize, but less frequently publish what it is doing. The CEOP report, designed to demonstrate a link between the possession of child abuse images and the actuality of sexual offenses, has restricted availablity. ‘A Picture of Abuse’ is published in a full restricted version for law enforcement only,” it announced.

Anonymous, however, doesn’t baulk at publishing difficult content. “We got hold of a copy of the SQL dump from the Aryan-Front,” Smith told Infosecurity. “We processed it, cleaned it up and then published it.” But there are still scruples. In a divergence from some parts of Anonymous, Smith admitted he doesn’t publish everything. “I don’t like publishing this stuff; but it needs to be done so that people understand why we do what we do.”

He added that even with the Aryan-Front content, he removed all addresses. It’s not always possible to tell whether an address belongs to a member or a target. “I advised all the Anonymous members involved not to publish [addresses]. You put people’s lives in danger. It was not proportionate.” Perhaps the primary difference between Anonymous and law enforcement is one of degree rather than purpose.

 

Comments from the Slack Space...
One of our analyst sources had the following to add on this development. These comments were given to us, ironically, under the condition of anonymity:
  • “Anyone involved in those rings is innocent until proven guilty – Anonymous assumes the details they find are legit and conclude the person’s guilt. A lot of damage can happen if those accusations are false, take Operation Ore from a few years ago as an example. That is the reason we have a court system and don’t rely on vigilante justice.”
  • “I doubt the FBI cannot penetrate those rings; after all, the Dutch High Tech Crime Unit did it last summer and those are the techniques Anonymous copy.
  • “Many LEA will leave such sites up to gather intelligence and more evidence against the perpetrators. Vigilante groups shutting down websites can ruin that process.”
  • “LEA’s goal is not to shut down the website but to identify, prosecute and jail those behind such activities. Their goal is also to rescue the children and the victims of these crimes.
  • “Stalin, Churchill and Eisenhower all had the same target at one stage, and look how well that worked out”

 

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