‘Anonymous’ hackers expose Norway rivals

Norwegian police have confirmed the arrests of two suspected hackers after members of the Anonymous collective revealed the identities of a group of young people believed to be behind a spate of recent attacks on major websites.

'Anonymous' hackers expose Norway rivals
Photo: Erlend Aas/Scanpix

According to internet activists Anonymous Norway, the so-called distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks were perpetrated by a group calling itself DotNetFuckers.

Among the organizations targeted by the hackers were Norwegian security police service PST, DnB bank, a range of Norwegian IT news websites, national lottery firm Norsk Tipping, Britain's Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) and German tabloid Bild.

The National Criminal Investigation Service (NCIS) on Wednesday revealed it had arrested two suspects, an 18-year-old and a 19-year-old, in connection with attacks carried out in recent weeks.

The pair have been charged with aggravated criminal damage, an offence that carries a maximum sentence of six years, NCIS said.

“We have arrested the two people we believe were most central to these attacks, but we are still hoping to speak to more people,” said prosecutor Erik Moestue.

The hackers are suspected of deliberately overloading the servers of the sites in question, causing serious financial damage in certain cases.  

The police were aided in their investigations by the Norwegian branch of the Anonymous collective, which posted the identities of the suspects online.

Irritated by the activities of DotNetFuckers, Anonymous published images of the hackers along with their names, addresses, schools, mobile phone numbers, email addresses, Facebook pages and online aliases used on services like YouTube, Spotify and Google+.

“DotNetFuckers consists of a group of 14-16-year-olds with very limited computer skills,” Anonymous said.

“We have not yet discovered a motive for the attacks, so we’re assuming that they’re doing it to get a kick or to destroy things for others. They’re a gang of boys”.

Anonymous said it would continue to publish more information about the group of young hackers.

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Norway accuses Russian hackers of parliament attack

Norway's domestic spy agency on Tuesday blamed a Russian hacker group linked to Moscow's military intelligence for a cyberattack on the Norwegian parliament earlier this year.

Norway accuses Russian hackers of parliament attack
Norway's parliament in 2013. Photo: Mike McBride/Flickr

The Norwegian intelligence agency (PST) said the likely perpetrators were the Fancy Bear collective — a group regularly accused of attacks including on the US election — but there was not enough evidence to pursue charges.

A “vast” cyberattack on August 24th gained access to the emails of some MPs and parliamentary employees, officials announced at the time, without speculating on the identity of the attackers.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide later accused Russia of being behind the attack, and PST investigators have now strengthened her claims.

“The investigation shows that the network operation which the Storting (Norwegian parliament) was subjected to was part of a broader national and international campaign that has been going on since at least 2019,” PST said in a statement.

“Analyses show that it is likely that the operation was led by a cyber actor … known as APT28 or Fancy Bear. This actor has ties to GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency.”

Using a method known as a “brute force attack”, where multiple passwords and usernames are submitted with the hope of eventually getting the right combination, the hackers were able to download “sensitive” information, PST said.

“The investigation has however not yielded enough elements to bring charges,” it said in a statement.

Russia's embassy in Norway has yet to comment on the PST findings, but in October it lambasted Eriksen Søreide's accusation as “unacceptable”.

“We consider this a serious and wilful provocation, destructive for bilateral relations,” the embassy said on its Facebook page at the time.

While relations are generally good between NATO member Norway and Russia, who share a border in the Far North, several espionage cases on both sides have soured relations in recent years.

Norway's intelligence agency regularly singles out Russia as one of the country's main espionage threats alongside Iran and China.

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