Anonymous got a taste of its own medicine as a British spy unit turned on of the group’s favorite cyber-attack methods against it. According to reports made on documents leaked by Edward Snowden, this was not the only time that Britain’s cyber spies turned the tables on hacktivist groups.
The British unit form part of the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), which is the UK’s communication s intelligence agency. When facing off against hackers from Anonymous, the team used a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack to disrupt communication between members of the group. This technique is the same one favored by many hacktivist groups when targeting the websites of governments, trade groups, and financial institutions.
According to the leaked documents, the measures taken by the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) were successful in reducing the number of members in Anonymous chat rooms by as much as 80%. The chat room infiltration was also used to identify hackers guilty of stealing confidential information, resulting in at least one conviction following attacks on PayPal. Hackers began targeting the online payment service following a refusal to process payments made to WikiLeaks; to Anonymous members, this attack was known as “Operation Payback”.