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A federal grand has issued indictments for thirteen suspected members of the hacktivist movement know as Anonymous for their alleged roles in carrying out online attacks against websites of government agencies, financial institutions, payment services, and political advocates.

The indictment, which was filed in the federal court in Alexandria, Va., asserts that beginning in September 2010 and lasting until January 2011, the alleged Anonymous members who are being charged had willingly participated in a series of attacks they dubbed “Operation Payback.”

Employing software they had developed called The Low Orbit Ion Cannon (LOIC), which was designed and disseminated widely to encourage crowd-sourced distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, the suspects overwhelmed servers of targeted websites with huge amounts of traffic, causing them to shut down.

Operation Payback was organized as retaliation against entities that advocated for the shutdown of Pirate Bay in 2010, a Swedish internet service that allowed its users to share files such as films and music in violation of international copyright laws.

Other campaigns were organized by Anonymous supporters to target critics of the whistleblower organization WikiLeaks after several services denied to do business with the group after they illegally disclosed classified and confidential government information.

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