Details in leaked FBI call could prove uncomfortable for Anonymous
A conversation between FBI special agents and authorities at the UK’s Scotland Yard was leaked online Friday morning, the latest in a series of data dumps conducted by Anonymous hackers to protest against law enforcement.
But the conference calls may have inadvertently released more information than the hacking collective would be comfortable with.
In the 17-minute call leaked on Friday, FBI agents could be heard commiserating back and forth before discussing the identities of some well-known hackers within the Anonymous group — the front-runners of the organization who have also participated in related-splinter groups Lulz Security and InternetFeds.
The actual identities of hackers “Kayla” and “TFlow,” two leading operatives within the Anonymous, Lulz Security and InternetFeds hacking movements, were censored from the public version of the FBI-Scotland Yard conference call.
“We’re looking to try to build some time in to allow some operational matters to fulfill on your side of the river…so we’ve set back the further arrests of Kayla and TFlow,” an authority figure at Scotland Yard said, indicating both hackers fall within Britain’s criminal jurisdiction.
The Scotland Yard official said the timing of the arrests would take about “eight weeks” so as not to invoke suspicion.
The call also discussed the impending arrest of a third, previously unknown individual who hacked into the gaming website Steam last year and stole customer credentials, including usernames, passwords and credit card numbers. Steam acknowledged in November their website had been compromised.
Authorities also discussed British teenager Ryan Cleary, an alleged member of the Anonymous group, saying “indecent images” were found on his hard drive that had been examined by British and US Air Force officials.
The Scotland Yard official said those images would be dealt with first, indicating their strategy in handling Cleary’s criminal case.
Cleary is accused of using a program known as the Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC) to invoke distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks in October and November 2010 against British websites. Cleary was also involved in the development of strategy in executing DDoS attacks against Paypal, Visa and Mastercard’s website in response to those merchants severing ties with the whistleblowing website WikiLeaks in December 2010.
If the realization of authority figures learning the true identities of Anonymous hackers and making connections to their attacks is unnerving for the collective, they are masterminds at disguising it.
On Friday, Anonymous hackers released the full 17-minute phone call in MP3 format and on the social video website YouTube. Hackers have taken to the social media website Twitter to encourage other users spread it around the Internet.
Accompanying the call was a copy of an email circulated by the FBI with details of the conference call, including the telephone number and access code for the call.
Twenty-six FBI agents were listed on the distributed email, including the original sender. Authorities from Britain, Ireland, Sweden, France and Germany were also listed on the call, but it’s unknown if they observed the conference as only British and American voices were heard.
The conference call was organized by FBI Special Agent Timothy Lauster, who has a computer science and engineering background according to a 2005 USA Today profile.
Various media organizations have attempted to email the addresses listed on the leaked memorandum. None have had success in obtaining a comment. The BBC reports Scotland Yard is preparing a comment for release at a later time.
I reached out to an agent with the FBI based in Sacramento, California who has been actively pursuing leads in connection with the Anonymous hacking collective. The agent has yet to respond.
Read more: Anonymous publishes FBI call on hacking
[Update: An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified Cleary's online handle as "Topiary."]