Two veteran members of Anonymous have admitted that individuals belonging to their own hacker clan carried out the devastating cyber attack against Sony. "It's Anon's work," said an Anonymous member to the Financial Times. "But you can't blame the whole collective for what one or two guys do." The attack signifies one of the most damaging corporate security breaches in recent memory with the personal information of up to 100 million Sony customers compromised. So far, the company says only 12,700 credit card numbers were taken. Regardless, if the identity of the hackers is discovered it will almost certainly mean jail time.
Officially, Anonymous has said it wasn't involved in the breach. "LET'S BE CLEAR, WE ARE LEGION, BUT IT WASN'T US. YOU ARE INCOMPETENT, SONY." But the Anonymous members speaking to FT (on condition of anonymity of course) point to the group. “The hacker that did this was supporting OpSony’s movements,” said the hacker, referring to Anonymous's public campaign against Sony for suing a gamer who had modified his PlayStation. Another Anonymous member explains the difficulties of a loosely-affiliated organization keeping its reputation clean.
“If you say you are Anonymous, and do something as Anonymous, then Anonymous did it,” said the hacker. “Just because the rest of Anonymous might not agree with it, doesn’t mean Anonymous didn’t do it.”
So what actually makes someone a member of the hacktivist group? Vanessa Grigoriadis profiled the group in a lengthy Vanity Fair piece for the April issue. According to the Anonymous members she speaks to, all you have to do is download a piece of hacking software called "low-orbit ion cannon" or "loic" and participate in the hacking of an Anonymous enemy and you're in.
“I guess you could call it an army, but I wouldn’t,” says outed Anonymous member Greg Housh. “Anonymous isn’t an army, or a group, per se. There aren’t members. Anyone who uses the loic is Anonymous, which means that anybody at any time in their lives can become Anonymous. Anonymous is nobody and nothing and nowhere.”
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.