LulzBoat sails off into sunset, leaving nasty wake behind

Upstart hactivists disband in the face of pressure from other hackers and their own infamy

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Lulz' rhetoric and its attacks have always been split. The group claimed it was working strictly for the lulz ("The raw, uninterrupted, chaotic thrill of entertainment and anarchy."). But attacks on Sony, the CIA and U.S. Senate showed the same motivating principle as more traditional anti-establishment hackers attacking seats of power simply to make them more uncomfortable.

More gratuitous attacks, and its thinly defended decision to post private account information that hurt the people exposed and served no higher purpose, eroded the group's standing as counterculture hero.

Lulz' insensitivity to that and the plight of customers of Sony and other sites whose data it stole and reposted, seemed more the random chaos of thrill-seeking griefers making themselves feel powerful by damaging those they considered stupid or technologically inadequate.

During the last 10 days of its Lulz run, LulzSec refocused on its political targets, ending a might-have-been-fake flame war with Anonymous to launch "Operation AntiSec" – a campaign to attack and encourage others to attack government agencies, police or corporations that seemed vulnerable.

Someone identifying himself as a member of the group told the BBC Lulz was targeting "higher ups" who make the rules for the real world and the Internet to "take them down a few notches."

In a Forbes interview, LulzSec member Topiary (who acknowledges having used the handle "Whirlpool" for the Q&A) said the group started as a thrill ride, but shifted over time toward "politically motivated ethical hacking."

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