A security researcher claims to have infiltrated the higher echelons of the Anonymous organisation and identified key leader's names and addresses.
Aaron Barr, head of security services firm HBGary Federal, told the Financial Times that he has identified two key members of Anonymous (including a co-founder) in the US as well as other senior members in the UK, Germany, Netherlands, Italy and Australia.
According to the research a core group of around 30 people co-ordinate Anonymous campaigns, with 10 who "are the most senior and co-ordinate and manage most of the decisions," said Barr.
He said that he monitored communications on email, Facebook and IRC between the group members by setting up fake online identities. He is not passing the information on to the authorities, since some of the methods he used break police rules, but will be presenting his results at the RSA conference in San Francisco.
Barr said he had identified one of the leaders, using the online name Owen, who is being investigated as part of the FBI's ongoing battle against Anonymous. One of the co-founders of Anonymous, named Q, is apparently seeking a replacement for Owen.
Anonymous has now apparently responded to Barr's claims with a posting on the AnonNews site. Entitled 'Anonymous admits defeat,' the message suggests the group is taking the claims less than seriously.
"Mr. Barr has successfully broken through our over 9000 proxy field and into our entirely non-public and secret insurgent IRC lair, where he then smashed through our fire labyrinth with vigor, collected all the gold rings on the way, opened a 50 silver key chest to find Anon's legendary hackers on steroids password," it warns.
"At this point, it is safe to assume that the underground server sites at the North Pole have been compromised as well."
Members of he Anonymous group have been increasingly active over the last year, with the group conducting online attacks against Mastercard and PayPal for blocking WikiLeaks, as well as government targets in Algeria and Egypt. As a result police in the UK and US have made a series of arrests.
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