The FBI announced on Thursday that it has executed over 40 search warrants in the United States today against “major companies and organizations” related to the pro-WikiLeaks Anonymous DDoS attacks. The FBI writes in its press release:
A group calling itself “Anonymous” has claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying they conducted them in protest of the companies’ and organizations’ actions. The attacks were facilitated by the software tools the group makes available for free download on the Internet. The victims included major U.S. companies across several industries.
The press release coincides with events also unfolding in France and UK.
Paris police also announced on Thursday that a French teenager suspected of involvement in the DDoS attacks in the United States was taken into custody for a few hours last December.
Meanwhile, in the UK, Scotland Yard arrested five young men, aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26. They are also suspected of having carried out DDoS attacks and are said to face a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 pounds.
In an open letter to the UK, Anonymous pointed out that
the maximum sentence these 5 anons could be given under the Computer Misuse Act is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of up to £5000. We want you to realize just how ridiculous these sentences are, especially given the exact nature of a DDoS attack and its lack of permanent damage to the target website…
The fact that thousands of people from all over the world felt the need to participate in these attacks on organisations targeting Wikileaks and treating it as a public threat, rather than a common good, should be something that sets you thinking. You can easily arrest individuals, but you cannot arrest an ideology.
This is the third reported set of arrests related to the pro-WikiLeaks DDoS attacks; a Dutch teenager and Anonymous IRC operator was arrested on December 8, 2010. That same week, a second Dutch teenager was also arrested and accused of the DDoS attacks.
Other individuals arrested for similar attacks on the Church of Scientology have in fact been sentenced to serve time in prison. Last year, an Anonymous teenager in New Jersey received a $37,500 fine, was sentenced to one year in prison and 2 years probation.