Ottawa hackers drop affiliation with Anonymous; warn of more attacks

TORONTO – The hacker group who has claimed responsibility for bringing down a number of Canadian websites, including Ottawa and Toronto Police, now says it is not affiliated with the “hacktivist” group Anonymous.

In an email to Global News Tuesday, the hackers known as “Aerith” said the group was originally part of Anonymous, but separated due to a “difference of opinion.”

The group initially claimed ties to Anonymous when it began initiating cyber-attacks against various Canadian websites over the weekend.

Aerith started by posing as a city employee in order to have the City of Ottawa’s website redirected to a homepage with a dancing banana. Then, over the weekend, the hackers launched a series of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks against the Supreme Court of Canada, Ottawa Police and Toronto Police websites.

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READ MORE: Hacker claiming ties to Anonymous targets Toronto, Ottawa Police with DDoS attack

The hackers say the attacks are in defence of an Ottawa teen who is accused of making prank 9-1-1 calls across North America. The teen is suspected of 30 instances of these types of pranks, known as “swatting.” The teen involved in the case was scheduled to appear in an Ottawa court Tuesday to set a trial date for those charges.

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Aerith has been using the code name #opSoaringEagle in its statements and on social media – a practice often used by Anonymous. But Anonymous’ Quebec chapter claims that #opSoaringEagle was never an Anonymous-run operation.

In an interview with the Ottawa Sun, the user behind the @AnonQC Twitter account said “if you ever come across something that claims (to be) speaking in the name of Anon, it’s false… even your mom could have sent that (press release).”

Although Aerith threatened to take down more websites, the hackers remained fairly quiet Tuesday. All three of the Twitter accounts associated with the group have been suspended.

Ottawa Police deny data breach

In the meantime, Ottawa Police have taken their website offline while they investigate the circumstances surrounding the DDoS attack over the weekend, but police say their systems are secure and running normally.

Aerith released a statement Monday night claiming they had breached the police’s server and collected “a ton of data.” However, police deny that claim.

“We’re confident there’s been no breach,” a media relations officer told Global News Tuesday.

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