Anonymous Fears Nerd Backlash From PlayStation Hack

The Sony hackers who perpetrated one of the biggest data breaches in history left a calling card on Sony's servers: a file called "Anonymous," containing the notorious hacking group's tag line. This is bad news for Anonymous, whose members largely want nothing to do with the hack.

Last month, hackers exposed the personal information, including credit card data, of millions of gamers by breaching Sony's PlayStation Network. In a letter sent to Congress today, Sony explained that the company had been the target of "very carefully planned, very professional, highly sophisticated criminal cyber attack designed to steal personal and credit card information."

The letter also implicitly blamed on Anonymous: Sony revealed it discovered a file on Sony Online Entertainment servers called "Anonymous" with the group's tagline, "We Are Legion." Case closed, right?

Not really: Most Anonymous members claim the group had nothing to do with this hack and have taken extraordinary steps to distance themselves from it. On the IRC servers Anonymous uses to organize its operations, channels dedicated to attacks on Sony have been systematically deleted for weeks. Even mentioning an operation against Sony can lead to a ban. And when Sony's PlayStation Network went down mysteriously last month—we now know this was when the hack was occurring—Anonymous took the unusual step of issuing a press release claiming that "for once we didn't do it."

Anonymous has come to realise that attacking Sony's PlayStation Network alienates a powerful group of potential supporters: nerds. The point was proved after Anonymous launched an unrelated attack on Sony in early April that briefly took down the PlayStation Network, in retaliation for Sony suing a kid who bypassed the Playstation 3's security systems. The attack sparked a nerd backlash which crippled Anonymous chat servers with retaliatory strikes and was generally a PR disaster.

"All the Sony kids were flooding the [Anonymous chat servers]and whining and complaining," said Gregg Housh an activist associated with Anonymous. An attack on Sony's PlayStation Network "pisses off a lot of people they want as fans not enemies." A similar concern was voiced last December when Anonymous contemplated attacking Amazon in revenge for it banning Wikileaks: One reason for not attacking was concern that the attack might anger people who were trying to do holiday shopping.

The dilemma presented by this new Sony hack shows how Anonymous' greatest asset—its amorphous, grassroots nature—can also be its greatest weakness. As news spreads that Anonymous was behind an attack on millions of gamers, there will likely be another backlash. "Pissed off that Anonymous Hacked PSN," wrote one Twitter user. Stealing millions of regular folks' credit cards is not a good look for Anonymous, the self-styled defenders of free speech.

Cries of "scapegoat" have been filling the Anonyosphere, which will no doubt argue Sony is trying to unload responsibility for its enormous screwup on Anonymous. But frankly there's almost no way Anonymous can disavow a role: If someone claims to be Anonymous, they are Anonymous. Just as the small cadre of elite hackers who took down the security firm HBGary were Anonymous, whoever was behind the PlayStation hack can claim the Anonymous banner as well—whether "Anonymous" claims them or not.


    This is rapidly turning into a soap opera.

    Sans the soap and plus my personal information.


    "Anon" is not a group. It has no members. It has no spokespeople. It is not an organisation. It is more of a concept, like "anarchic terrorist", or "Anti Semite".

    It is literally a group of random unidentified people attacking the same target. There are no rules, guidelines, morals or sympathy.

    No one can speak on behalf of Anonymous. If someone says they represent Anon, they are lying.

    The only things an "Anon" can do is suggest a target, and if they want to, attack a suggested target.

      Of course it's a group.
      Of course it has members.

      They have chat channels which a number of people frequent to get information about attacks. Tell me how this isn't a group.
      A number of people will frequent these channels, and take part in discussions on attacks, or be involved in them. Tell me how these aren't members.

      It doesn't need an official member roster or an official leadership to be a group.

        The point is that the IRC channel was created AFTER "Anon" emerged as a concept, and that IRC channel is not the only place that "Anon Raids" are generated.

        Anyone can become an "Anon" without being a hacker, or going to an IRC channel. Therefore, an official messages from "Anon" is a complete oxymoron. Again, the only authentic message Anon can make is suggesting a target to attack.

        In other words, if you ring up and order 100 pizzas to Sony headquarters, and don't take credit for it, you are carrying out an "Anon Raid".

      Not only is Anonymous obviously a group, it's not even a smart or useful group. They're not anarchists or activists, they're a mob with no coherent beliefs, plans or ideology other than dumbly rushing towards whatever issue has most recently captured their attention.

      Anonymous is like the worst of commercial news stations: five minute attention span, unable to accomplish anything meaningful, and receive a disproportionate amount of attention given their lack of insight, influence, or wisdom.

        Sagarat is 100% correct. Anonymous is a philosophy, not a group. Just as Zen Buddhists follow Buddhist philosophies there are groups that follow Anonymous philosophies. Just as with Buddhism, which particular Anonymous values you hold dearest will place you in a certain group.

        There *is* a group that calls itself Anonymous ( which shows that they've missed the point from where I stand) who nevertheless do hold dear certain values that Anonymous philosophies propose. It's a confusing name for a group, just as any evangelical Christian describing themselves as "Christian" can be misleading.

    It wouldn't be particularly difficult for anyone to have left that apparent calling card. Anon is a nice scapegoat to divert attention away from the real culprit.

      Enough said... I was jumping in here to say the exact same thing. If I did this, it would be the first part of my plan to leave this type of information behind. Clearly a plant to distract people.

        No doubt.

        the only thing is it doesn't make them innocent.

        just because the group as a whole didn't do it doesn't mean someone didn't start the thing as there own hack as an anon.

        It's interesting though Anon are basically only going to be able to hack, companies that don't directly deal with the public, if they want to avoid backlash.

    Definitely smells like opportunity to lead Sony off their trail pretty easily in terms of the real culprits

    Almost all anonymous attacks have relied on critical mass in the past, and have never (as far as I can recall) resulted in monetary gain for the individual. If anonymous knew about this, there's no way that thousands of individuals could all keep this a secret, least of all on an internet message board. This was the act of a few or a single skilled individuals.

    Anonymous should be considered synonymous to 'swarm'. A single hornet cannot claim to be a swarm, a single person cannot claim to be anonymous. Rile up the nest, and you'll hear them buzzing long before they sting.

      irrelevant. That's like saying a squad of marines who brake the law and steal 2 million dollars. Aren't marines.

      If they have operated under anonymous before they are anonymous. And until they are caught and it can be found what there initial motivation was. you can't just say it wasn't anonymous fuelled to begin with.

      Anon as a whole might not have condoned nor participated in this hack. But they wouldn't be the first or the last organisation to have a rogue element inside them.

        So if some rogue marines went and stole 2 million dollars you'd blame the whole marine corps?

        And unlike the marines there's no official representation of this group, it's as if your rogue marines are just telling people their marines with no proof.

    lol @ Anonymous shitting bricks and issuing a rather prompt disclaimer.

    Yeah, I doubt it
    Sony are probably using them as scapegoats or the real culprit wants the scent thrown off them

    Or if you want to go further down the rabbit hole.

    Sony was behind this all along. They figure whats the best way to discredit your enemy and turn people against them.

    Say you've been attacked by them and that you found a calling card on your servers from that group.

    Sure Sony has had a lot of pissed off fans, but if they can pin it on Anonymous...then they can slowly make themselves out to be the victim and turn the tables against Anonymous, who can't really fight off allegations effectively.

    If Sony were behind it, then they haven't lost anything really...they get 2 weeks to restructure PSN, they haven't actually lost their data and they get to introduce people to PS Plus for 30 days which may lead to more people buying it from them after this.

    Deception has been a part of warfare since time immemorial, that being said...its way out there and I doubt they're that cunning.

      That seems very unlikely.
      Sony are going to get in a massive amount of trouble from a number of countries, and even if they thought that framing Anon was a good idea, they'd have known this.

      The losses from this are going to be massive. They'll probably live through it, but noone would consider this worth it.

      yeah but sony could have done all this and said there was no credit card data taken.

      If sony organised this themselves they done it in a way which is going to screwthemselves over more in the long term than it is anon

      I don't know where you get the idea nothing lost. Sony has class action law suits coming at it from all angles. Not to mention most governments in the world are also investigating them. They are going to lose a lot of money over this.

    Brilliant detective work.

    It's not like someone else could have created a file and written Anonymous' tag line in it...

      I totally agree. if this "file" or tag line was in there before, why has it take so many days and organisations pointing the finger to figure out who it was.

      Give me a brake... if they wanted people to find out or intended to leave behind a tag, I would think it would be fairly visible on first inpection...

    Sigh, I guess we all brace ourselves for another wave of poorly researched ACA and Today/Tonight style 'news' reports on this which will further paint our generation as the ultimate threat to baby boomers who don't actually understand what occured or the fact it probably has little to no relivence to them.

    The fact that for it to be true would denote a baffling level of inconsistency on the part of 'Anonymous' [who apparently became a consolidated organisation, look out for their stocks on the world market any day now] is of course irrelivent, because everyone will have a field day over this.

    I don't know, it just seems a bit too convinient to me

    It could easily be someone who is part of Anon. Just because the majority disagree with the hack, doesn't mean the minority didn't do something.

    I think Moot's probably gonna be getting yet another visit from his friends at the FBI, man he must be on a first name basis with them about now. . .

    I've always said, regardless if it was anon, a splinter of anon, or some random, they were going to get pinned for it by the gamers and/or Sony.

    It's all too convenient for Sony to claim it was attacked by Anonymous - especially in light of the fact that this attack seems out of character, for lack of a better word.

    I don't recall Anonymous ever trying to sell credit card details before. Leak the details yes, but never try to earn money from their work.

    Perhaps it wasn't to steal credit card details to SELL, maybe it was to show Sony wasn't protecting it's customers, which then lead to huge doubts about Sony's ability to cope with events such as these, all in an effort to take down the evil corporation they apparently are... at least to Anonymous.

    Sony knows Anon will not become public to defend themselves in court, so they have shifted the blame to Anon and got an instant win.

      I think any success in shifting blame to Anon is more than outweighed by the negative PR from failing to prevent a hacker attack. Even if Sony could prove Anon was somehow responsible, Sony is still the undisputed loser by a country mile.

    Anon: "we are the self appointed authority of the internet and we will do bad things to you"
    *PSN gets hacked*
    sony: "credit card details, personal info got stolen...we have FBI and HLS investigating and 3 companies"
    *angry RAEG from consumers*
    Anon: **** it wasnt us

    Nerds attacking groups of lifeless nerds!

    In the end no one wins EXCEPT for the people who are responsible.

    - Sony gets in trouble worldwide with their poor handling
    - Consumers lose PSN access and have their private information stolen.
    - Anonymous gets the blame no matter who they are and what level of involvement they have.

    The only ones to benefit are the people who have that sensitive information.

    The only evidence that the hack was perpetuated by Anonymous is that single little text file which anyone could've easily made, whether or not they are affiliated with Anonymous.

    Additionally, Anonymous' previous attacks have been relatively simple DDOS attacks. The PSN attack was extremely sophisticated, as both Sony and George Hotz have noted.

    In other words, the "calling card" is scarcely conclusive, and the attack doesn't abide by Anonymous' typical Modus Operandi.

    I am not a huge fan of Anonymous, but it seems clear to me that there is scope for substantial reasonable doubt that Anonymous is behind this.

    If anonymous is capable of a hack at this level sophisticated then they are more formiddable than anyone first thought.

    "Anonymous has come to realise that attacking Sony’s PlayStation Network alienates a powerful group of potential supporters: nerds".

    I don't get it, how can you alienate yourself?

    Wow, Sony comes up with a scape goat, a fairly obvious one at that (I could create a file on my brother's PC that says Anonymous with whatever inside, it does not mean that they attacked him).

    And judging by the comments, a few of you fell for it.

    Hook, line and sinker.

    Hang your heads in shame.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now