Inside the FBI's Hunt for Anonymous

We've seen the law's efforts to smash Anonymous' hacker network from the outside—mostly teens getting rounded up and cuffed. But what's the offensive look like on the inside? Ars Technica got a firsthand look at the police work.

The FOIA-liberated documents go back to '08, before Anonymous was known for going on tears like the one we've seen this summer. Three years ago, their target was Bill O'Reilly and his legion of fans. Particularly, the ones who paid to access his website. With a bit of prying, Anonymous was able to snatch hundreds of logins, exposing email accounts and starting a bender of credit card fraud and defamation.

And then came the feds. Interestingly, most of the case work is just investigators trying to figure out what the hell happened. Given the dispersed nature of Anonymous (and LulzSec later on), piecing together the crime is an immense task. Evidence spanned 4chan, Wikileaks, and, of course, a lot of private communication. Their attacks may not always be sophisticated, but you can always credit Anon for living up to its namesake—the dudes are hard to pin down.

Too hard, it proved. Anonymous was too anonymous, and the case was closed without arrests. Now, in 2011, things have changed. People get taken down. Leaders get taken down. The targets are bigger—Anonymous goes directly at the cops now. And yet, the collective remains. Whether it's a matter of better controlled chaos, greater numbers, or police futility, the attacks keep coming. But now, I have a feeling the FBI paperwork is a little more extensive. [Ars Technica]