Anonymous: Hello citizens of the world. We are Anonymous.
Maggie: Over the weekend, the online hacking group Anonymous managed to take over the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, a government agency that advises federal courts.
Hackers break into computer systems looking for weaknesses in security. When they find those weaknesses, they take over and cause all kinds of trouble. A talented hacker can even end up getting hired by companies to test the security of their computer systems. But members of Anonymous are often referred to as hacktivists, protestors who are determined to keep their identities top secret.
The group’s attack on the federal website this weekend replaced the site’s official text with a message that says ‘a line was crossed’ when Aaron Swartz killed himself earlier this month.
Swartz was the 26-year-old internet genius. He was facing federal charges for using a computer network at MIT to download millions of research articles. His family and friends insist he was driven to suicide by aggressive government prosecutors.
In a YouTube video that is more than nine minutes long, Anonymous defended its latest online attack.
Anonymous: With Aaron’s death, we can wait no longer. The time has come to show the United States Department of Justice and its affiliates the true meaning of infiltration.
Maggie: Their video ends with this final threat to the American justice system.
Anonymous: This time, there will be change or there will be chaos.
Maggie: The group claims to have downloaded encrypted government files and is threatening to release them if there is not widespread legal reform of the U.S. justice system.
Anonymous has made similar threats before. The group disrupted the computer networks of Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal, after those companies said they would no longer be working with activist and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange.
The hacking group is being closely watched. The FBI has now launched a criminal investigation into the attack on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, saying it is always concerned when ‘someone accesses a government agency’s network.’
Maggie Rulli, Channel One News.