‘A Line Was Crossed’: Anonymous Hacks U.S. Gov’t Website, Threatens to Release Secret Information

This screen shot shows the website of the U.S. Sentencing Commission after it was hijacked by the hacker-activist group Anonymous, early Saturday, Jan. 26, 2013, to avenge the death of Aaron Swartz, an Internet activist who committed suicide. The website of the commission, an independent agency of the judicial branch, was replaced with a message warning that when Swartz killed himself two weeks ago “a line was crossed.” (AP)

The hacker-activist group Anonymous said it hijacked the U.S. Sentencing Commission’s website and was threatening to release secret government information to avenge the suicide of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, according to media reports.

A message that appeared on www.ussc.gov demanded the U.S. reform its justice system or face leaks to news outlets, according to CNN. The Associated Press reported the hackers claimed it had infiltrated several government computer systems and copied secret information. The Sentencing Commission’s website was unavailable Saturday morning.

According to CNN, Anonymous claimed to have “enough fissile material for multiple warheads” to launch against the Justice Department and “its associated executive branches.”

Friends and family of Swartz, a co-founder of the social site Reddit, have blamed his suicide on his ongoing legal battle after he posted millions of court and academic documents usually requiring payment for free online.

Anonymous warned that “a line was crossed” with Swartz’s death and named their attack “Operation Last Resort.”

Richard McFeely, the FBI’s executive assistant director of the Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, said in a statement Saturday that the bureau was aware of the breach “as soon as it happened and are handling it as a criminal investigation.”

“We are always concerned when someone illegally accesses another person’s or government agency’s network,” McFeely said.

​This post has been updated.