On Friday, Spanish police revealed that they have arrested three suspected members of the Anonymous hacking group. The arrests were made simultaneously in three Spanish cities, namely Barcelona, Valencia and Almeria and all three suspects are Spanish citizens aged 30 to 32, according to a statement released by Manuel Vazquez, chief of the police’s high-tech crime unit. Since October, the unit has been busy with combing through more than 2 million lines of online chat and web pages until they identified the three Internet users, whose names have not yet been given. The three men are suspected of coordinating the group’s activities in Spain, based primarily on electronic evidence found on a computer server seized in the home of one person.
Spanish police stated that the three “hacktivists” had been involved in various cyber-attacks on the Spanish Banks of BBVA and Bankia, on the Italian energy group Enel and more recently on Sony’s PlayStation online gaming store, thus causing a suspension of its network services for almost a month. As Mr. Vazquez asserted, “Anonymous” is a loose-knit international network of activists with a common idea, maintaining numerous cells around the world. The analysis of their chat logs revealed that their decision-making process consisted in organizing meetings in chat rooms before agreeing on staging denial of service attacks on governments, businesses and banks.
Anonymous grew out of the online picture sharing site 4Chan, which describes itself as a community of concerned netizens and makes frequent use of Guy Fawkes masks, as popularized by the blockbuster film V for Vendetta. In December 2010 Anonymous attacked PayPal, Mastercard, Visa and Amazon for dropping support for Wikileaks. Nevertheless, the group drew international attention due to its association with the Arab spring. “Anonymous” carried out Operation Egypt and Operation Tunisia that led to the crippling of many government websites and to a general upsurge of Internet activism throughout the Arab world.
Anonymous has claimed responsibility for a DOS attack on the website of the Spanish National Police in retaliation.