The battle for Internet security
We'll start with Anonymous, a group that is probably the most famous of the bunch. Having attacked Mastercard and many other high-profile companies as a response to government action against Wikileaks and Julian Assange, Anonymous and cyber security became a hot topic in the recent years. Since then, several groups have emerged to cause chaos.
LulzSecurity (commonly known as LulzSec), a group which is separate from Anonymous, began attacking security companies with the goal of releasing documents to the public. This group met with great success, the prime example being their attack on Stratfor, a global intelligence company. They succeeded in accessing Stratfor's client list and getting credit card information of many subscribers. Since the attack Stratfor has not relaunched their full website, and currently has a message apologizing for the lack of security provided on their home page.
Many other companies have been attacked by LulzSec as well, but one particular instance is much more telling of the goals of LulzSec: The hacking of the Arizona Department of Public Safety. In what LulzSec called a retaliation for ADPS immigration laws, massive amounts of information were released to the public. Manuals, emails, passwords, usernames, if it was stored in a ADPS computer it could (and still can) be seen online.
Now, the ADPS is not just some company, it is a part of the United States government. It doesn't help that LulzSec has attacked the CIA (they only managed to take the site down for a short time due to a distributed denial-of-service [DDOS] attack) and is openly contemptuous of the government. Other countries have joined in, with England having made several arrests already.
The government, of course, has been stepping up their own cyber security and making it more dangerous for hackers to operate. Stealing the information that LulzSec has accessed and made public is a felony in the US, and those who are caught are facing serious charges. As of now there have been many arrests of suspected hackers.
Things have gotten serious for the hackers and government at this point. With attacks on the government and arrests being made, it's difficult to predict how this will end. These groups do not show any sign of stopping. They actually seem to be enjoying it by operating twitter accounts, hanging out in chat rooms and publicly announcing their targets. It is incredible that a group which so boldly commits crimes is still running against the combined effort of multiple governments and law enforcement agencies.
What an interesting time to be around; a time when a group of loosely associated hackers can carry on a fight with the government and openly taunt their opponents. I can only imagine it will end soon, though, as these hackers lack the funding and manpower that the government can put forth.
Serious hacking attempts from other countries have already been acknowledged to be an act of war, worthy of physical retribution. A different type of war is being fought online against these hackers, and it seems that NATO has just finished getting warmed up.