February 21, 2012, 2:12 PM — The FBI often seems to treat cybersecurity and the Anonymous hacktivist collective nothing more sinister than an annoyance distracting the bureau from its primary mission of chasing kidnappers, terrorists and child pornographers. When Anonymous annoys the FBI directly, of course, it becomes a dire threat to national security.
(Of the reports on Anonymous from various government agencies, the most serious warnings often turn out to be forgeries coming from Anonymous itself.)
The National Security Agency (NSA) has been much more even-handed in its treatment of Anonymous – not considering it the devil incarnate, but not pretending it's a bunch of college kids up to harmless hijinks, either.
Right now, however, the NSA is warning top government officials that Anonymous might be capable within two years of creating limited power blackouts by attacking electric utilities, according to a WSJ story this morning.
Gen. Keith Alexander, director of the NSA, issued the warning in meetings at the White House and other sessions with lawmakers, according to "people familiar with the gatherings," the Journal wrote.
Oddly enough, the threat from Anonymous to shut down the Internet on March 31 by attacking the 13 root DNS servers that tell all traffic on the Internet where to go has raised the profile of Anonymous with NSA and made it look more like an immediate threat.
That's ironic considering the mass of indications that "Operation Global Blackout" is either a hoax or an effort by small factions within Anonymous to press for aggressive attacks more powerful factions don't want to pursue.
Taking a hoax as a serious danger sign?