The LulzSec group has said that it is ceasing attacks and disbanding after a 50-day hacking campaign, but hopes that others will continue the AntiSec movement against government and business targets.
LulzSec issued the statement via its Twitter feed, saying that attacks had ended and that the group of six had planned to be together for only 50 days.
However, the group said that it hoped that the AntiSec campaign will continue and that data that has been published should still be examined.
"We truly believe in the AntiSec movement. We believe in it so strongly that we brought it back, much to the dismay of those looking for more anarchic lulz," LulzSec said.
"We hope, wish, even beg, that the movement manifests itself into a revolution that can continue on without us. Please don't stop. Together, united, we can stomp down our common oppressors and imbue ourselves with the power and freedom we deserve."
If true, the announcement will bring to an end to a campaign that has seen government, law enforcement and business servers fall to seemingly simple hacking attacks.
LulzSec also included political targets, publishing server data from the US Senate and the CIA, and getting into an FBI affiliate office and infiltrating the security business of one of its members in a manner very reminiscent of the HBGary attacks.
The group published a short manifesto of its aims, including fighting against internet laws and exposing information for 'lulz'.
LulzSec then called for the start of the AntiSec campaign and almost immediately took down the web site of Soca, the UK's main online police force. A claim that the UK census data was also stolen was later denied by the group and the authorities.
Shortly after these attacks an Essex teenager was arrested and charged with computer crime offences, although LulzSec said that he was peripheral to the main group and simply hosted one of their IRC sessions.
Most recently the group released emails from the Arizona police and drug enforcement agencies in protest at the state's anti-immigration stance.
"Inevitably there will be speculation that the reason for LulzSec's apparent disbandment could be that they are worried that they have brought too much attention to themselves, and there are simply too many people (including rival hackers) attempting to uncover their true identities," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant at Sophos.
"The temptation for someone connected with the group to blab about their involvement may be too great, and the chances of a member of LulzSec being careless and unwittingly failing to cover their tracks could be too big a risk to take.
"Maybe, quite simply, LulzSec was worried that the heat was intensifying and it was time for them to get out of the kitchen before the computer crime authorities caught up with them."
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