Police arrest Anonymous suspects in Italy

The four suspected hackers are accused of taking control of the Italian branch of Anonymous

Italian police arrested four suspected hackers Friday, accusing them of having taken control of the Italian branch of the Anonymous network.

The alleged hackers, aged between 20 and 34, were placed under house arrest near the northern cities of Bologna, Turin and Venice, and in the southern town of Lecce.

Six more people were placed formally under investigation and a total of 10 premises were raided at the conclusion of a two-year police investigation code-named "Tango Down."

Investigators said the group, which had created a dominant cell within Anonymous Italy, was responsible for cyberattacks on commercial and government websites, including sites belonging to the Vatican, the Italian prime minister's office, the defense ministry, the police, Bank of Italy and the national railway company Trenitalia.

"They were like a cancerous cell within the Anonymous organization," said Ivano Gabrielli, a deputy police chief at the National Center for Computer Crime and the Protection of Critical Infrastructure (CNAIPIC), who helped coordinate the investigation. "They had taken over the brand and were using it for their own personal benefit," Gabrielli said in a telephone interview. "It was a vanguard cell that was carving out a position of power at the head of Anonymous Italy. That's somewhat anomalous in a supposedly anarchic structure."

Some members of the group who are IT professionals offered their services to commercial companies to repair the damage caused by their own attacks, Gabrielli said.

The group had clashed with other members of Anonymous over ideological questions and had sought to consolidate its dominant position by denouncing some of its rivals to the police, he said. "They were responsible for reporting about 30 people to the authorities."

Members of the group allegedly divided responsibility for different activities between them, some selecting targets, others carrying out the cyberattacks and yet others claiming responsibility for them.

The police investigation involved analyzing the technical characteristics of the attacks and the documents claiming responsibility for them, monitoring discussions on social media, the interception of electronic messages and phone calls, and infiltration of the group by undercover officers, Gabrielli said.

The suspects are accused of using the Internet for a criminal conspiracy, the first time such a charge has been employed in Italy, and face up to eight years imprisonment if convicted.

"The investigation was coordinated by the Rome prosecutor's office and any trial will probably be celebrated in the capital," Gabrielli said.

Gabrielli's organization was embarrassed two years ago when a subgroup of Anonymous claimed to have stolen 8GB of secret documents from the CNAIPIC computer.

Most of the documents actually came from elsewhere, Gabrielli said.

Investigators said the four arrested suspects were IT professionals leading a double life. They worked as hackers mainly at night and even their families were unaware of their criminal activity, the online edition of La Stampa newspaper reported.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Anonymoussecuritylegalcybercrime

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Philip Willan

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?