The hacker group Anonymous has briefly shut down a website belonging to the US Justice Department, following a warning by the Homeland Security about an imminent 9/11-style cyber attack.
The Saturday attack by the group against the US Sentencing Commission (USSC) website has been explained as a kind of revenge for the government’s prosecution against the deceased American dissident blogger Aaron Swart.
The group briefly replaced the USSC’s front page with a letter which claimed that they had accessed secret data at the US Justice Department and threatened to publicize the information unless the US reformed its sentencing laws to make them more proportionate to crimes.
The attack comes after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano warned on Thursday against the looming threat of a major cyber attack and urged immediate action to prevent a “9/11 in the cyber world.”
According to FBI’s Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, the bureau is investigating the cyber attack on the USSC website.
Also in a video posted online, the hackers slammed the government's prosecution of Swartz, who faced a maximum sentence of 31 years in prison and fines of up to USD one million on charges of using the computer networks of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to steal over four million articles from JSTOR, an online archive and journal distribution service.
On January 12, the 26-year-old prominent computer prodigy was found dead in his apartment in the New York borough of Brooklyn.
Brooklyn’s chief medical examiner ruled the death a suicide by hanging, but no further detail was available about the mysterious death.
Last year, Swartz openly criticized the US and the Israeli regime for launching joint cyber attacks against Iran.
The blogger was also vocal in criticizing Washington’s so-called targeted killing operations carried out by US assassination drones in Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Swartz was critical of monopoly of information by corporate cartels and believed that information should be shared and available for the benefit of society.
In a memorial website, Swartz’s family described his death as “the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”