After announcing OpIcarus earlier this month, Anonymous released a list of targets, saying they would conduct attacks on the US Federal Reserve, the International Monetary Fund — sites owned by the World Bank — and national banks around the globe. As May and OpIcarus draw to a close, it looks as if Anonymous has made good on their threats. The collective has shut down web sites associated with major banks around the world and now that they have hit the US Federal Reserve, the New York Stock Exchange, and the Vatican, there is curiously a near total media blackout on the group’s activities.
In a statement announcing OpIcarus earlier this month, Anonymous identified both the Bank of England and the New York Stock Exchange as two primary targets:
‘This is a call to arms my brothers who for too long have stood for nothing but have criticized everything. Stand now, behind the banner of free men against the tyrannical matrix of institutions that oppose us. Ready your weapons and aim them at the New York Stock Exchange and Bank of England. This is the operation to end all others. Innocent people may stand to lose something from this but the powers that be stand to lose much more.’
OpIcarus hackers repeatedly showed they were capable of taking down their targets, hitting dozens of financial institutions around the world. But the question remained, could they really manage to shut down the high-profile institutions that seemed to be the real goal of the operation?
In a recent interview, Stephanie Weagle, senior director at Corero Network Security, said it’s impossible to assess the damage done by Anonymous:
‘While the impact on the individual targets of the DDoS attack campaign, ‘OpIcarus’ is unclear; obstructing or eliminating the availability of email servers is significant. In an online world any type of service outage is barely tolerated, especially in the banking industry where transactions and communications are often time-sensitive, and account security is of utmost importance.’
And yet there remains a media blackout over these repeatedly successful attacks on the world’s most powerful financial institutions. Whatever the long-term cost may be to the banks and institutions themselves remains to be seen, but one thing is certainly clear in all this: Anonymous has exploited weaknesses in these security systems and the media has shrugged its shoulders and said that is not news.