By Damon Poeter:
Anonymous hackers on Wednesday claimed to have taken down several Vatican websites run by the Catholic Church to protest the "corrupt Roman Apostolic Church." The hacking attacks on www.vatican.va and other sites came the day after several alleged members of the Anonymous-associated hacking group LulzSec were charged by U.S. authorities and it was revealed that LulzSec's leader had been an FBI informant.
"Anonymous decided today to besiege your site in response to the doctrine, to the liturgies, to the absurd and anachronistic concepts that your for-profit organization spreads around the world," the hackers said in an Italian-language statement reported by the AFP. "This attack is not against the Christian religion or the faithful around the world but against the corrupt Roman Apostolic Church."
The YourAnonNews twitter feed claimed the Vatican attack was carried out for laughs, or "[f]or the pure, simple lulz, no other reason."
Anonymous was reportedly behind a failed attack on Vatican websites last August. Last month, security firm Imperva analyzed how that attack was carried out over about 25 days, with the bulk of the hacktivists' time spent drumming up support for the operation, followed by attempts over a few days to use hacking tools to sniff out and exploit vulnerabilities in a Vatican-run ecommerce site.
Meanwhile, late on Tuesday hackers associated with LulzSec took down and defaced more than 25 websites belonging to Panda Security, claiming the security firm had been "earning money working with Law Enforcement to lurk and snitch on anonymous activists."
The Panda Security attack, which occurred overnight, appears to have been revenge for the FBI's high-profile bust of six hackers associated with Anonymous and LulzSec on charges related to cyber attacks on high-profile targets like Fox, Sony Pictures, Stratfor, and more.
According to Fox News, the hackers were brought down by one of their own. Hector Xavier Monsegur, who goes by the name "Sabu" online, cooperated with the government for months after being uncovered last June.
The FBI charged five individuals in the U.S. and abroad with computer hacking, while Monsegur pled guilty to 12 counts of computer hacking, conspiracies, and other crimes.
The feds charged Ryan Ackroyd (aka kayla), Jake Davis (aka topiary or atopiary), Darren Martyn (aka pwnsauce, raepsauce, or networkkitten), and Donncha O'Cearrbhail (aka palladium) in Manhattan Federal Court with computer hacking conspiracy for the hacks of Fox, Sony Pictures, and PBS.
Jeremy Hammond (aka yohoho, tylerknowsthis, or crediblethreat), meanwhile, was arrested yesterday in Chicago and charged with crimes relating to the December 2011 hack of Stratfor.
Chloe Albanesius and Mark Hachman contributed to this report.