Hactivist collective LulzSec disbands

The infamous hactivist collective LulzSec has announced that it is disbanding after just 50 days of generating worldwide headlines with a string of cyber attacks.

The move comes amid growing international police investigations against the hacking group and was announced hours after rival hackers claimed to have unmasked LulzSec’s core leaders.

Over the past two months LulzSec has been responsible for a string of publicity seeking hacks and disruption attacks on a host of websites including the CIA, Nintendo, Sony Pictures and the Arizona Police Department.

The group started off claiming its hacks were done purely for fun and to highlight poor cyber security. But in recent weeks it became increasingly political targeting a slew of government websites and announcing an alliance with the once rival hactivist group Anonymous.

In a final hurrah LulzSec posted its last information dump – a cache of hacked data from a variety of organisations which included names, emails and passwords of thousands of online gamers. The cache, which was posted online, also included internal documents from US mobile network operator AT&T.

In a resignation statement peppered with its trademark nautical references, LulzSec made no mention of why it was disbanding.

“Our planned 50 day cruise has expired,” the statement, posted through LulzSec’s official Twitter page, read: “We must now sail into the distance, leaving behind - we hope - inspiration, fear, denial, happiness, approval, disapproval, mockery, embarrassment, thoughtfulness, jealousy, hate, even love. If anything, we hope we had a microscopic impact on someone, somewhere.”

The announcement came as a surprise to many online followers. Only last week LulzSec were boasting that they intended to publish details of new hacks tomorrow and follow up with further releases every subsequent Friday. Rival hackers and commentators believe the group’s leaders may have decided to go to ground fearing that law enforcement agents were closing in on them.

“Inevitably there will be speculation that the reason for LulzSec's apparent disbandment could be that they are worried that they have brought too much attention to themselves, and there are simply too many people (including rival hackers) attempting to uncover their true identities,” Graham Cluley, a cyber security expert at Sophos, said. “The temptation for someone connected with the group to blab about their involvement may be too great, and the chances of a member of LulzSec being careless and unwittingly failing to cover their tracks could be too big a risk to take.”

Over the weekend a string of rival hackers posted their own document dumps detailing who they believed to be some of LulzSec’s key leaders. Those named as members were said to be from the United States, Sweden and Britain.

One group, calling itself the A-Team, posted what they claimed was a full list of member details including logs from online chat conversations and offered to hand them over to the FBI.

Boasting of their success, the A-Team said LulzSec members felt they were protected by a “culture built around the anonymity of the internet.

But they added: “The internet by definition is not anonymous. Computers have to have attribution. If you trace something back far enough you can find its origins.”

TriCk, a teenage rival hacker from Britain who was working to unmask LulzSec, told The Independent: “Lulzsec couldn’t handle the pressure from us or from the feds. We were getting close to getting them and they knew it.”

Although LulzSec generated unprecedented media coverage for their cyber assaults, they attracted fierce criticism from the underground hacking scene who wrote their work off as comparatively simple hacking and disruption techniques using other hacker's coding. Law enforcement groups will no doubt be sifting their way through much of the data that anti-LulzSec hackers have now posted.

In its parting statement LulzSec called on supporters to throw their weight behind Anonymous, the much larger hactivist network where many of the LulzSec leaders used to used to operate, and the so-called Anti-Sec movement – a term used by hacktivists to describe their anti-government, anti-authoritarian cyber protests.

“We truly believe in the AntiSec movement," the statement read. “We hope, wish, even beg, that the movement manifests itself into a revolution that can continue on without us. The support we've gathered for it in such a short space of time is truly overwhelming, and not to mention humbling. Please don't stop. Together, united, we can stomp down our common oppressors and imbue ourselves with the power and freedom we deserve.”