According to documents supplied by Edward Snowden to NBC news, the UK government have attacked hacktivist groups including Anonymous, using DDoS attacks. The distributed denial of service or DDoS attack as it is more commonly known, is the same process of attack used by hacktivists in online attacks. Anonymous have used this type of method to attack Visa, for example.
GCHQ, the British Government Communication Headquarters, have created a specific unit called JTRIG, the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group, or Rolling Thunder as it is known. It is this group that carried out an attack that has successfully reduced the number of users in Anonymous chat rooms by 80%.
This is the first time JTRIG has been acknowledged as an actual group. It was this unit that have identified hackers who had pilfered confidential information and they have gathered information which has resulted in sending one person to jail for stealing PayPal data.
Documents from a PowerPoint presentation at the 2012 NSA conference, named SIGDEV, have detailed how agents engaged hacktivists by pretending to be fellow hackers. This resulted in the arrest, conviction and imprisonment of British hacker Edward Pearson for the theft of 8 million identities from PayPal accounts.
The Syrian Cyber Army, Anonymous, and LulzSec are all named in the documents as groups that have attacked corporations and government agencies.
GCHQ told NBC news that their actions were justified. “All of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework, which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee…All of our operational processes rigorously support this position.” it said.
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