Be Careful Who You Hack

Web site operators typically will fight pretty hard when law enforcement or civil litigants try to obtain identifying information about anonymous posters. Aside from the First Amendment right to speak anonymously,it’s generally good business. Most people who choose to post anonymously want to stay anonymous. And they’re more likely drawn to sites that respect that wish. But what happens when the anonymous poster hacks that very site? In that case, it looks like all bets are off. Some member of “Anonymous” a group that supports the efforts of Wikileaks is finding that out the hard way. The group went after PayPal last December when PayPal announced it was freezing the Wikileaks account. Wikileaks had used PayPal to collect donations. Anonymous launched coordinated attacks that slowed down PayPal’s service, and completely shut down the Mastercard and Visa Web sites. So it turns out that PayPal is cooperating with the FBI, and has turned over the IP addresses of users who sent malicious network packets to PayPal during the attack. The FBI has already served 40 search warrants, and apparently has a list of 1000 IP addresses. As I said, if you want to stay anonymous, you might want to think before you hack.