Security provider Imperva has made a breakthrough in shedding light on the tools and techniques used by Anonymous after studying an attack made by the criminal hacking group on a high-profile organisation.
According to The New York Times, the organisation was the Vatican, although Imperva has declined to confirm the exact identity of the organisation targeted for security reasons.
Anonymous often targets organisations that support a clamp down on internet piracy but Amichai Shulman, co-founder and chief technology officer at Imperva, confirmed to V3 that the attack had been politically motivated.
"This attack was not at all to do with copyright. It was political. We know this because we analysed the geographical location of the attackers and where they were concentrated means it had to be a political attack," said Shulman.
The Vatican could not be reached for comment.
Imperva was able to track Anonymous as it recruited volunteers for the attack via Facebook and Twitter, said Shulman.
Shulman said the initial attack targeted the applications and databases owned by the organisation to host its website.
When the Anonymous volunteers failed to deface the website, or remove data from the databases, they turned their attention to a denial of service (DoS) attack, he said.
"If you are worried about Anonymous, you need to first worry about application attacks rather than DoS," he said.
Shulman believed the attacks, which lasted for around three days, were made by around ten individuals. He said the individuals were just using unsophisticated hacking tools throughout the attack.
"We had an application firewall where we analysed it all happening, took the logs and analysed them," said Shulman.
"While Anonymous created a perception that they were an uber-hacking group, they actually use standard tools, so if organisations have proper defences in place, they can properly mitigate attacks."
Shulman said Anonymous had launched the DoS attack from mobile browsers using the so-called low orbit ion cannon (LOIC) tool.
"The attack was server based so it could be easily mitigated using firewalls," he added.
The political overtones of an attack on the Vatican would be nothing new for Anonymous.
It has previously campaigned against the Church of Scientology, and the group has also taken up causes against banks and government groups it believes to be corrupt.
Geoengineering on the sea floor near glaciers would form a new ice shelf to prevent melting
Alterations in capillary blood flow can be caused by body position change
Curiosity rover is in 'normal mode' but not transmitting scientific data back to base
NatWest outage comes a day after Barclays' IT systems shut out customers and staff