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article imageOp-Ed: Anonymous denies Sony credit card theft- Smear campaign?

By Paul Wallis     May 5, 2011 in Internet
Internet activist group Anonymous has denied involvement in the Sony credit card hacking, after a file called “Anonymous” was found on Sony’s servers. Anonymous strongly denies allegations that it was involved in the hack.
Given the current tendency of US anti-Wikileaks elements to tar and feather anything related to Wikileaks or Assange (while studiously and systematically doing absolutely nothing to penalize their own staggeringly incompetent security system operators), this allegation against Anonymous , which came out strongly in defence of Assange, looks like a smear campaign. It has all the hallmarks of the Washington Bureaucrat Self Help Machine, clumsy, obvious and all too easily finding its way into the headlines. Anonymous did have an issue with Sony, and conducted a Denial of Service attack, which "generated" this file nobody's mentioned before until a Senate committee got involved. That's a hell of a long way from a credit card hack, though, and the distinction hasn't been exactly emphasized previously.
This isn’t the first time Anonymous have been the first call for financial hacks, either, as evidenced by the recent Bank of America hack allegations. Interesting that there is now apparently a built in default for deflecting attention from security failures, isn’t it? This is the Chicken Little approach, and as PR for a security issue it’s well beyond appalling, even by the standard “insult public intelligence whenever possible” motif in the US. Don’t be totally surprised to hear that Anonymous was responsible for the sinking of the Lusitania, at this rate.
I’m not much of an admirer of Anonymous. I find them a bit pompous and I don’t like stilted verbosity, although I can empathize with anyone trying to make a point online, whether I agree with them or not. But this Sony thing doesn’t look like Anonymous at work.
The “Anonymous” file association doesn’t make a lot of sense. People that swipe huge amounts of credit card information don’t leave calling cards. Anonymous has shown a capacity for selective targeting of sites, but no prior interest in using their obvious technical capabilities for anything but their own campaigns.
Chronic stupidity isn’t one of their trademarks, either. What seems to be overlooked in the rush to judgment is that Anonymous has successfully conducted major operations without being traceable. Leaving files lying around for analysis and tracking would be like putting up a billboard, and that just doesn’t cut the mustard as an Anonymous trait.
There’s another unholy smell in this cesspit, and it’s quite possible that someone involved in the Sony mess may be trying to distribute blame. Sony itself is likely to be innocent. They’ve got far too much to lose. A class action would be a massive killer, and unsubstantiated allegations of third party activities won’t beat class actions. The same can’t be said for its contractors, which may have cut corners on security. Most financial data has massive cover, encryptions and large ranges of possible security measures which are highly effective, if expensive.
So- Pick an alternative, and discover a file called “Anonymous”….? This would be in the ballpark for that famous “corporate cleverness” we’ve all come to admire so much since the Great Recession. Plausible to enough illiterates to stick. “If they’ll believe the Birther argument, they’ll believe anything,” etc.
Anonymous is a “loose group”. That means independent operators, which in turn means not the sort of massive effort required to conduct a major hack like the type required to crack Sony. This allegation just doesn’t wash, anyway you look at it.
One further point- If Anonymous was trying to totally scuttle any credibility it has online, this would be how to do it. It’s unlikely that any member of Anonymous would be very popular for trying to pull a stunt like this, and there would be consequences. Whatever reservations I may have about Anonymous, I can’t quite see this level of imbecility as part of their operations.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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