The remarkable ongoing story of Anonymous took an almost unbelievable twist after the group revealed details of a joint FBI and Scotland Yard conference call – which claimed to have Anonymous on the back foot.
In a development which appears to be straight from a Hollywood spy blockbuster, the internet activist collective has left top security forces on both sides of the Atlantic shame-faced.
Scotland Yard and the FBI thought they were closing the net on Anonymous members after the group had conducted many high profile security breaches. However, it seems that the hacktivists were at least one step ahead of the bungling cops the whole time, after it posted a YouTube video with a recording of the conference call.
An email was also released by the hacker group, revealing codes being sent around to security officials to join in on the call.
One Anonymous member said: “The FBI might be curious how we're able to continuously read their internal comms for some time now."
The names of various suspected members of Anonymous were discussed during the meeting, though some were blurred out. The call also covered splinter groups of Anonymous such as LulzSec.
Despite the leak, British police have released a statement claiming that “at this stage no operational risks” have been identified.
Aside from potentially hampering attempts to apprehend suspects, the revelation that the very people that security officials were hunting had become the hunted will be hugely embarrassing for all involved.
At one point, the British police admitted that they had “cocked things up in the past, we know that”.
Security expert at Sophos, Graham Cluley, highlighted the astounding nature of Anonymous’ latest hack: “It is extraordinary - incredibly audacious,” he told TechEye. “It is one thing to DDOS the FBI or SOCA but to actually dial into a conference call between the FBI and Scotland Yard is really rubbing the authorities’ noses in it.
“In fact it is almost the sort of thing you would expect in a movie or a comedy.”
Cluley believes that aside from the sheer cheek of the hack there is certainly a serious side to it, and shows security officials to be bungling and care free.
“They do talk about the current investigations, so that might give suspects a tip off," Cluley said. “Also, it seems that Anonymous didn’t use high tech means to do this, someone’s email account has been hacked.”
The email, Clulely said, might have been forwarded to a personal account which had then been accessed. "Forwarding to a personal account is dangerous," Clulely warns, "and, if this is the case, it is certainly a clear example of how it can go wrong.”