Fed computers hijacked in Swartz tribute
Jan 27, 2013 (Boston Herald - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Anonymous, a band of online vigilante activists, has turned its ire on the U.S. Department of Justice, threatening to release secret, internal documents the group hacked in memory of Aaron Swartz, the Internet prodigy who committed suicide before his federal trial.
"With Aaron's death we can wait no longer. The time has come to show the United States Department of Justice and its affiliates the true meaning of infiltration. The time has come to give this system a taste of its own medicine," read part of the message and video posted on the U.S. Sentencing Commission website, which the activist group claimed responsibility for hacking yesterday. The website was down for most of the day before appearing to be back up late last night.
Anonymous -- whose members have railed against U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz for threatening Swartz with a 35-year sentence and $1 million fine for downloading obscure academic papers through a Massachusetts Institute of Technology server -- said it has infiltrated government computer systems, and offered to give media "heavily redacted partial contents" of the data, according to the message.
"We were aware as soon as it happened and are handling it as a criminal investigation," said the FBI's Richard McFeely, executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, in a statement. "We are always concerned when someone illegally accesses another person's or government agency's network."
The group's latest hack shows the FBI will have to find tactics other than aggressive prosecution to fight groups such as Anonymous, said Gregg Housh, a local Internet activist who was not part of the hack.
"This just shows that their years-long battle is failing. The FBI and our government just don't get it. They can keep putting hundreds of people in jail, but it's not going to stop this," Housh said. "Thirty years ago, being a hacker was really complex -- even elite. Now Anonymous has channels welcoming new blood and places where they can learn hacking and programming."
Members of Anonymous held a Boston protest last week to call for the resignation of Ortiz.
Some members are also urging supporters of the shadowy group to come forward and publicly push for Aaron's Law, which would scale back prosecution for breaking website user agreements. U.S. Reps. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) and Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) are co-sponsoring the bill.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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