The world’s most powerful hacker groups

In Information Security ByTeam Acumin / 13th February 2015

The news today is rife with stories of hacks on government or company websites and systems, performed by groups with increasingly colourful names, such as Cult of the Dead Cow, which sounds rather like a ‘70s slasher movie, or Deep Panda, which tech site Gizmodo suggested sounds more suitable for a metal band.

Nobody really knows just how many groups are currently operating and how many members they have, but the skill sets and the range of targets they boast are diverse. Indeed, the avalanche of activity in this field over the last couple of years has really boosted the number of cyber security jobs available across the UK. Here, we’ve compiled a short list of some of the prominent and powerful groups in the news today:

Anonymous

More a loosely connected international network than a single, organised group, Anonymous is nevertheless a notable mention on this list. The organisation came together more than 10 years ago on the image forum site 4chan, but the group now operates on an international scale and is responsible for a number of high-profile DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks against various governments, religious organisations and corporations.

Just recently, the International Business Times reported that the FBI was using information gathered by Anonymous to track the culprits behind the recent attack on the U.S. military’s Twitter account, @CENTCOM.

Guardians of Peace

A name now closely associated with electronics giant Sony, Guardians of Peace is the group behind the Sony cyber security issues that dominated industry newsfeeds last year. After making various threats relating to terror and even referencing the September 11 atrocities, the group has now attracted the attention of U.S. security agencies.

According to Fox News, the FBI confirmed that Guardian of Peace has made threats to launch further attacks on media organisations. The Freedom of the Press Foundation’s executive director, Trevor Timm, was quoted by the New York Post as saying:

“While it’s hard to tell how legitimate the threat is, if a news organization is attacked in the same manner Sony was, it could put countless sensitive sources in danger of being exposed-or worse.”

Lizard Squad

A relatively new but no less disruptive group on this list, Lizard Squad came into the media spotlight last August. Since then, countless news stories have been accompanied by stock images of glassy-eyed iguanas and top hat-wearing monitors as the Lizard Squad hit the headlines for its criminal activities.

Over Christmas, the group managed to stop thousands of gamers all over the world from playing online on their PS4 and Xbox One consoles, bringing Sony and Microsoft to a standstill while they worked to resolve the issue.

At the end of last year, the group revealed LizardStresser – a service designed to allow countless others to mimic its attack on the gaming industry in return for bitcoin payments. However, it seems that despite being the culprit behind a number of attacks itself, the group wasn’t able to protect its own; as reported by the Guardian, website KrebsOnSecurity managed to obtain details of the thousands of users who signed up for the LizardStresser service.