Washington: UK spy agency, the GCHQ, allegedly launched cyber attack on hacktivist group Anonymous, documents revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed.
The documents state that GCHQ’s division, the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG), carried out the alleged operations.
According to The Verge, JTRIG launched a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack against the internet relay chat (IRC) rooms used by members of Anonymous, as part of the operation dubbed ‘Rolling Thunder’.
It was revealed that the DDoS attack was launched following similar attack by Anonymous in 2011 on PayPal, major credit card companies, and websites of the FBI, CIA, and GCHQ as part of its ‘Operation Payback,’ staged in protest against the prosecution of Chelsea Manning.
The documents include a presentation titled “Pushing the Boundaries and Action Against Hacktivism” that lists Anonymous, LulzSec, and the Syrian Electronic Army as major hacktivist groups.
Meanwhile, author of the forthcoming book on Anonymous, Gabriella Coleman said that the GCHQ went too far, as its operation amounted to a crackdown on civil disobedience rather than suspected terrorists, implicating a handful of criminals at the expense of thousands.
Former head of the US National Counterterrorism Center, Michael Leiter, echoed similar views as he said that groups shouldn’t be targeted for their political beliefs, but he didn’t think it should negate the government’s ability to identify cybercriminals online, the report added.