Just a couple of days after the hacktivist collective Anonymous organized a protest in San Francisco over the city rapid-transit system’s decision to shut down cellphone service, an unassociated hacker posted the names and e-mail addresses of transit officers online.
The San Francisco Weekly reported it had spoken with a French girl using the screen name “Lamaline_5mg” who claimed credit for the attack. She said it was very easy for her to get the information, and that she posted it because she was upset with BART’s decision to turn off cellphone networks in response to a planned protest.
At least one prominent Anonymous member has said through the Twitter account AnonyOps that he or she does not support posting private information online.
@KristinHanes What is anonymous? Anyone can carry a banner and call themselves anonymous. I do not support releasing people's private info.
Reaction to this latest cyberattack and the “OpFacebook” attack announced for Nov. 5 have further shown the inherent problem Anonymous faces as a loose collective.
Despite the hacker’s own words in the San Francisco Weekly article, several reports attributed the latest attack to Anonymous, because of the group’s recent actions against BART and the fact that some members spread the word about the information on their Twitter feeds.
Anonymous prides itself on the fact that anyone can use its name, but the group also has to fight a public relations war to make sure that central goals — exposing corruption, illegal government activity and corporate missteps — don’t get overshadowed by splashy attacks that seem to have little to do with the public good.
In an open letter AnonyOps posted on his or her Twitter account, a member of the group summed it up this way:
People participate in many activities in the name of Anonymous. They hack websites, leak information, participate in distributed denial of service attacks, protest in the streets, and spread information. None of this is done at the direction of leadership. All of it is voluntary. Anonymous doesn't DO anything; people do things Anonymously.