Twenty-five suspected members of the hacker collective Anonymous have been arrested in Latin America, evidence of the increasing prominence of cyber crime in the region.
According to the Associated Press, Interpol infiltrated a website frequented by a group of hackers. The operation, codenamed "Operation Unmask," then followed their cyber-attacks from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Spain, which included attacks against the Colombian Ministry of Defense and various presidential websites as well as Chile's Endesa electricity company and its national library. Although officials have not released the identities of the 25 suspects, the AP said they include at least 10 people in Argentina and at least five in Chile.
Interpol's operation, in which the agency cooperated with local law enforcement, involved searches of 40 locations in 15 cities of four different countries. Over 200 pieces of internet technology equipment and mobile phones were seized, according to a report on Interpol's website.
InSight Crime Analysis
Anonymous, in as much as one can surmise, appears to have various tiers. This may be the downfall of a second or even a third tier of the organization. The group's own members, cited in the AP story, said these members were careless and left digital tracks that led to their arrests.
This international sting may deter some would be hackers from participating in future Anonymous acts, but there is little reason to believe that the hard-core members will stop. Their targets may also expand to Interpol, widening an already broad net the group has cast over everything from government websites to criminal organizations.
It is also unlikely that any law enforcement can stop "Anonymous." It's amorphous and political nature may make it a catchphrase for politically motivated cyber attacks worldwide for years to come, regardless of the source of those attacks or their real political motivations.