Anonymous Hackers Hit U.S. Sentencing Commission

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Members of Anonymous recently breached the U.S. Sentencing Commission's Web site and posted a defacement message along with a set of encrypted files.

"Two weeks ago today, a line was crossed," the hackers wrote on the site. "Two weeks ago today, Aaron Swartz was killed. Killed because he faced an impossible choice. Killed because he was forced into playing a game he could not win -- a twisted and distorted perversion of justice -- a game where the only winning move was not to play. Anonymous immediately convened an emergency council to discuss our response to this tragedy. After much heavy-hearted discussion, the decision was upheld to engage the United States Department of Justice and its associated executive branches in a game of a similar nature, a game in which the only winning move is not to play."

"The group is ... threatening to expose sensitive information about the US government, purportedly contained in a 1.3GB encrypted file titled Warhead-US-DOJ-LEA-2013.AES256, which it claimed it had obtained after infiltrating numerous unnamed sites," writes The Register's John Leyden. "The group has encouraged Internet denizens to distribute the file (which it refers to as a 'warhead'), and it has since become available as a torrent through file-sharing networks."

"Anonymous says it will release the decryption key for the files if the US Government does not acquiesce the groups' demands pertaining to the [lessening] of penalties for computer crime," writes SC Magazine's Darren Pauli.

"[After] the site went offline and then was restored, it was infiltrated again on Sunday -- and Anonymous social media accounts distributed code that turned the USSC homepage into a playable game of Asteroids," writes Slate's Will Oremus. "Anyone who visited the site and typed in the Konami code could use a missile-equipped Nyan Cat to blast away at the various text and graphical elements on the page, revealing a Guy Fawkes mask underneath."

"At the moment, USSC.gov is down, but the hack's been poking its head out on other sites as well," notes Gizmodo's Eric Limer. "Head on over to the Eastern District of Michigan's United States Probation Office website, for instance, and enter the Konami code (↑ ↑ ↓ ↓ ← → ← →B, A, Enter). After the dialog box calling for then end of 'Prosecutorial Overreach,' you'll be free to fly around your own personal Nyan cat with Asteroid controls and start making a mess of the place."

"This isn’t the first such protest," notes Geek.com's Lee Mathews. "Earlier this month, Anonymous operatives 'temporarily borrowed' MIT websites to draw attention to the Swartz case. The message referred to the prosecution as a 'gross miscarriage of justice' and called for reforms of copyright and intellectual property legislation"