A Linux-based operating system that may or may not have come from members of the hacker collective Anonymous is stirring up a lot of debate.
The operating system, called Anonymous OS Live, has popped up on SourceForge as a 32-bit download that reportedly is loaded with hacker tools. According to the creators of the Ubuntu-based operating system, Anonymous OS Live was "created for educational purposes, to checking the security of Web pages." At the same time, they also urge users to "use any tool to destroy any Web page :) If you attack to any Web page, might end up in jail because is a crime in most countries!" They also say that the user "has total responsibility for any illegal act."
The key question is whether the operating system is safe, and whether Anonymous is really behind it. Given Anonymous' natureincluding having no central leadership, a revolving door of hackers who claim membership and the tendency for some members to run their own operations under the Anonymous bannerit can be difficult to know whether an operation is actually being run by Anonymous.
And that is the situation with Anonymous OS Live.
In several tweets on the @Anonops Twitter account, which has been used in the past for communications from Anonymous, the writers warn people from downloading the operating system, claiming it's "fake" and "wrapped in trojans."
Others also are questioning the veracity of the creators' claims. Geek.com columnist Lee Matthews said everything about the OSincluding the language used to promote itrings false.
"To say that Anonymous has released their own operating system doesn't quite seem accurate," Matthews wrote. "Sure, the Tumblr page is slathered in Anon 'branding' and the disc includes an assortment of security, hacking, and DDoS [distributed denial-of-service] tools (including Slowloris and HOIC). But the text on the about page doesn't read like the usual Anonymous missives. For example, there's a warning against using the software for malicious purposes. ¦ It's a far cry from the bold anti-authoritarian language that we've seen before in 'official' Anonymous releases."
It's more likely "that this is the work of one individual who wanted to see what he or she could do with the Ubuntu Live CD Creator," he wrote.
However, in response to the statements in the @Anonops tweets, the Anonymous OS Live creators in a note on a Tumblr page asked users to not be taken in by the claims that the operating system is loaded with malware.
"Please people ¦ in our world, in Linux and opensource world, there is not(sic) virus," they wrote. "If any user believe that Anonymous-OS 'is wrapped in trojans' or 'backdoored OS by any Law enforcement Company or Hacker' please don't download it! But don't mislead the world that Linux is dangerous and has trojans!"
There appear to be many people who are not concerned about the malware threats. By 11:30 ET March 15, the OS had been downloaded more than 37,000 times, with 42 people recommending it and another 36 speaking out against it.