Arik Hesseldahl

Recent Posts by Arik Hesseldahl

Anonymous Claims It Took No Credit Card Numbers From Sony

The loose confederation of hackers that calls itself Anonymous has issued a lengthy statement denying any involvement with the theft of account information and credit card numbers from two gaming services operated by the Japanese electronics giant Sony.

Indirectly accused by Sony in a letter to Congress yesterday, based on the appearance of a text file left behind to taunt system operators containing the phrase “we are legion,” the group says it has never been known to engage in credit card theft. “Whoever did perform the theft did so contrary to the ‘modus operandi’ and intentions of Anonymous,” the statement says. “If a legitimate and honest investigation into the credit card theft is conducted, Anonymous will not be found liable.” The group goes on to imply that the appearance of the text file is more likely an attempt to implicate and discredit Anonymous.

Sony’s gaming services, including the Playstation Gaming Network, have been down for more than two weeks while Sony Online Entertainment, the home of Everquest and Star Wars:Galaxies has been down for about four days, following an attack that has compromised some 100 million user accounts, including some credit card data.

Sony apologized over the weekend and the damage to its gaming business is as yet unknown. Lawsuits have since been filed, and lawmakers and regulators are asking tough questions.

The problem with parsing a statement like this is that it’s hard to know who speaks for the group and who doesn’t. For all its ideological rhetoric about fighting for transparency and individual liberty, it’s not hard to imagine someone who’s an occasional participant in Anonymous’ actions, breaking off and doing their own thing. But it’s also very easy to imagine an attacker wanting to leave behind a “false flag” in order to throw investigators off the trail and implicate a big target like Anonymous. The trick for Sony–and the investigators it is working with–is to figure out what really happened.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work