The FBI went after a gang of computer hackers today. Agents carried out raids in several states, arresting alleged members of the group that calls itself Anonymous. CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian has the story.
Dozens of FBI agents targeted alleged members of the loose-knit hacking group in simultaneous raids driven by the U.S. attorney's office in San Jose, Calif.
Armed with search warrants, agents hit six homes in New York, along with locations in California, New Jersey and Florida, and seized hard drives and computer accessories.
Anonymous first surfaced as a serious cyber threat last year when it claimed responsibility for attacking the Paypal website -- payback, it said, for denying online payment service to the website WikiLeaks.
The group has taken credit for hacking the websites of the CIA and the city of Orlando, after police arrested people for handing out sandwiches to the homeless without a permit.
A man who calls himself Commander X says he's part of Anonymous and orchestrated the Orlando project. He asked us to hide his identity.
"The power of Anonymous," he said, "is that we have the ability to effect change on the Internet. You have a site online -- all of a sudden, we snap our fingers and that site is gone."
Their method of choice: a "denial of service" attack, where hackers overwhelm websites with a huge volume of requests for information. Crashing down the company's Web site, said Commander X, for a cause.
"That process is the equivalent of a virtual sit-in," he said. "It's no different really than taking up seats at the Woolworth lunch counter during the civil rights movement in the Fifties and Sixties."
While 16 people were arrested today, sources say they're not leaders in the group, but rather people who volunteered to help in the attacks.