The exciting hacker story about the stolen siurce code of the Symantec program pcAnywhere has been continued, as the e-mail correspondence between a Symantec employee, referred to as Sam Thomas, and an alleged representative of the Yamatough (the Twitter name for Lords of Dharmaraja) hacker group was published yesterday. In the published e-mails, Thomas offers 50,000 dollars to Yamatough so that they would not publish the hacked source code, so the whole matter looks pretty mauch like blackmailing.
Yamatough is actually a part of the notorious Anonymous hacker community, which has been plaguing the government and corporate Web since 2008. A significant part of the Web community has started regarding this elusive, loosely defined conglomerate of various hacker groups as the modern analogue of Robin Hood, avenging the evil power and economy structures.
The story with Symantec and its source code has proved it's not the case. For quite a long time, it has been going without saying in the tech circles that Anonymous pulls in vast amounts of money through their hacking activities, blackmailing or selling the data obtained by them from the corporate or government servers. Even though the 50,000 dollars, mentioned in the e-mails, have never been paid to Anonymous, the correspondence between them and a Symantec officer gives an insight into the everyday life of the hacker group.
Of course, some people can object that the whole correspondence long is nothing else but an attempt to revenge the recent publishing of the pcANywhere source code on Pirate Bay, but the overall weight of indirect evidence in favor of the blackmail theory is quite conclusive: the hackers do get money for what they do. For example, Lords of Dharmaraja do not dispute the very fact of this correspondence, but claim it was rather a bribe attempt than negotiations with a blackmailer. Not very convincing for my ear.
What I believe is that Anonymous has become a sort of a brand name, which makes it possible for various hacker groups to get a nice pile of bucks. The loosenes of the Anonymous community borders, their high permeability, is exactly the model, which is highly demanded among the Web-criminals. I am absolutely sure there has been quite a number of hacking instances, where large sums of money were paid to the digital intruders without making the story public. What large IT-company wantsa smear on its reputation, if it's possible to conceal the truth from the world? It would be too big a chance to miss.
So there can be again no talk about noble Web outlaws, punishing the rich and helping the poor. Sad but true.