FBI warning: 'Hacktivism' is a crime

Regardless of the motives of hacktivist groups, breaking into a network and removing or altering data is a crime, said an FBI official in charge of criminal and cyber investigations in an interview with CIO.com.

Hacktivist groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec continue to make headlines for sharing confidential data from private- and public-sector websites. The crime is not in the groups' ideological agendas, but in the data breaches, says Shawn Henry, executive assistant director of the FBI's Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.

"When anybody breaches a network and steals data and then publicizes it—whether they're from a foreign country and they're using the data to help their country's industry, they sell it as an organized crime group, or they just display it because they think the company they stole it from is acting inappropriately—the fact that the data is stolen is a violation of federal law," Henry said.

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