The FBI has apparently searched several homes across the country as part of a broader investigation into the hacker group Anonymous and arrested several suspected members.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the FBI was seeking out individuals "in their late teens and early 20s." Fox News reported that 30 to 40 search warrants had been issued in the case, with arrests of 16 people in "states including Florida, New Jersey and California." A spokesperson for the FBI's San Francisco office confirmed that "law enforcement actions" were under way.
Government officials told CBS News that the FBI had made "more than a dozen arrests" as part of its investigation into the Anonymous network.
For some months, Anonymous has proven a cyber-thorn for a number of companies and government organizations, including the Central Intelligence Agency and biotechnology firm Monsanto, in the latter case siphoning hundreds of pages of documents that allegedly revealed unethical business practices.
The "hacktivist" collective also breached consulting firm Booz Allen Hamilton and dumped log-in information for some 90,000 military and government personnel, including US CENTCOM, SOCOM, the Marine Corps, Air Force facilities, Department of Homeland Security, Department of State and private-sector contractors.
In response to those attacks, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., requested the establishment of a new subcommittee focused on examining data breaches against federal agencies and contractors, with an eye toward informing and reconciling various drafts of cyber-security legislation.
"I truly believe the only way to ensure the protection of sensitive and valuable information from tampering or dissemination by unauthorized persons is a Select Committee," he wrote in a July 14 letter to Senate leadership. "With so many agencies and the White House moving forward with cyber-security proposals, we must provide congressional leadership on this pressing issue of national security."
Also in July, the Department of Defense officially unveiled its strategy for operating in cyberspace, which includes a variety of defensive measures designed to protect DOD systems and infrastructure from attackers. Marine Gen. James Cartwright, vice president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has criticized that plan for focusing too much on defense at the expense of offensive elements.
"If it's OK to attack me and I'm not going to do anything other than improve my defenses every time you attack me, it's very difficult to come up with a deterrent strategy," he said in a press briefing before Deputy Defense Secretary William Lynn's July 14 speech at the National Defense University in Washington D.C.
Anonymous isn't the only threat to the Pentagon, whose networks are apparently probed millions of times every day by cyber-attackers. In March, an attack against military computers led to 24,000 files being stolen from a defense contractor. Specifically, the intruders targeted information related to missile-tracking systems, unmanned aerial vehicles and the Joint Strike Fighter.