Just as Sony all but accused the hacker group Anonymous yesterday with masterminding the breach of Sony's PlayStation Network, today Anonymous came up short of denying it infiltrated PlayStation Network but rather said others performed the attack with the intent of making Anonymous look bad.
In a statement published on the Daily Kos website, Anonymous stated that journalists who understand Anonymous suspect someone else was behind the attack, and that it was meant to damage the reputation of the group.
The statement attributed to Barrett Brown, who often speaks publicly for Anonymous, states, "Anonymous has never been known to have engaged in credit card theft" -- something short of a denial.
"No one who is actually associated with our movement would do something that would prompt a massive law enforcement response," the statement says, again falling short of a denial. "On the other hand, a group of standard online thieves would have every reason to frame Anonymous in order to put law enforcement off the track."
The statement says that journalists familiar with Anonymous and its motives suspect "that some capable party performed this operation as a means by which to do great damage to Anonymous in the public eye."
Later, the statement implies that capable parties might include some of the entities Anonymous says it has made uncomfortable by posting information about them that it stole from HBGary Federal. These entities include Booz Allen Hamilton, Palantir and the U.S. Department of Justice.
"All of this is now public record, and anyone who finds it laughable that those or other entities may have again engaged in tactics that they are known to have engaged in the past is not qualified to comment on the situation," the statement says.
In the past, Anonymous has carried out DDoS attacks against businesses and national governments, and stolen information and posted it on the Internet. It often warns its victims and claims credit for what it does afterward.
In the Sony PlayStation Network case, Anonymous has said it was not responsible, but that individual members of the group may have launched the attack on their own initiative.
Compared with the group's past behavior, one aspect of the Sony breach stands out as unique: The attacker left a file named "Anonymous" on a Sony server including the words "We are Legion," which is part of Anonymous' motto.
"Whoever broke into Sony's servers to steal the credit card info and left a document blaming Anonymous clearly wanted Anonymous to be blamed for the most significant digital theft in history," the posting on Daily Kos says.
Leaving such a calling card diverges from Anonymous' past practices, as does the group's failure to claim responsibility.