The U.S. government arrested several hackers who now face lengthy prison terms in connection with Sony’s data breaches.
The FBI arrested Cody Kretsinger, 23 of Phoenix, Ariz., Christopher Doyon, 47, of Mountain View, Calif., and Joshua Covelli, 26, of Fairborn, Ohio, demonstrating the government’s seriousness about pursuing and capturing those who infiltrate high-profile computer systems.
All three, who are members of hacktivist collectives Anonymous or LulzSec, face charges of intentionally damaging protected computers and could see up to 15 years in prison if convicted.
Kretsinger, an alleged member of hacktivist organization LulzSec, supposedly conducted an SQL injection hack against Sony’s film studio website and posted users’ personal details online.
Doyon and Covelli are charged with attacking and disabling Santa Cruz County computer servers in 2010.
The arrests may be part of a bigger government crackdown to discourage hackers from pursuing similar activities by punishing those convicted with several hundred thousand dollars in fines, plus 10 to 15 years in prison.
The FBI and other authorities have made dramatic raids to arrest hoarders, but the arrests are compounded with growing government momentum to elevate hacking’s seriousness as a crime.
To strengthen the current penalties, Obama administration is working to pass proposed legislation to prosecute hackers as organized criminals, doubling fines and jail time.
These punishments are hefty, but even so, the FBI raids may have an opposite effect, inciting Anonymous and its affiliates to retaliate. Hackers took this stance after the July 20 arrest of a British teen said to be LulzSec’s spokesman.
Two days after his capture, Anonymous vowed to continue its activities in spite of his and 16 other alleged members’ arrests in the U.S.
In the months since the shakedown, Anonymous continued its activities in full swing, notably protesting against San Francisco’s BART transportation system with online hacks and offline protests. The collective paraded into downtown streets wearing Guy Fawkes masks, denouncing BART’s decision to black out its cell phone network to prevent a protest.
In addition, Anonymous plans a “Day of Vengeance” for Saturday against Wall Street, major banks and the New York Police Department. Anonymous says the NYPD abused peaceful protesters who attempted to occupy the city’s financial district in protest of its alleged corruption.
Anonymous shows no signs of letting up despite FBI arrests, although the ostensibly smaller LulzSec group may be suffering from the crackdown. Already, authorities hold six people supposedly related to the group, which may explain LulzSec’s quiet retreat into Anonymous as part of their joint AntiSec operation.
The FBI may scare off half-committed hackers, but looks unlikely to stop Anonymous and LulzSec members bent on making headlines and advancing political agendas with high-profile breaches.