FBI cyber chief claims to have "dismantled" Anonymous leaders

The FBI's cyber division chief has claimed the agency has "dismantled" the leading members of hacker group Anonymous through a series of arrests last year.

"All of these guys [arrested] were major players in the Anonymous movement, and a lot of people looked to them just because of what they did," assistant special agent Austin P. Berglas told The Huffington Post.

The arrests were triggered by the initial detention of Hector Monsegur, aka "Sabu", the co-founder of Anonymous splinter group LulzSec, who then became an FBI informant.

Monsegur's cooperation led to the detention of five core LulzSec and Anonymous members. Berglas said this not only had a "huge deterrent effect" on other hackers, but "added layer of distrust" to the group as a member had turned on his own.

"The movement is still there, and they're still yacking on Twitter and posting things, but you don't hear about these guys coming forward with those large breaches," he said. "It's just not happening, and that's because of the dismantlement of the largest players," added Berglas.

Monsegur faces up to 124 years in prison but his sentencing has been delayed whilst he continues to work with the FBI.

"It's easy to sit behind a computer and think you're anonymous and do these illegal types of activity, whether it's hacking into a company or trading child pornography or buying and selling stolen identities," said Berglas.

"But it's just a matter of time before these criminals make mistakes and we capture them. All it takes is just one time."

Gabriella Coleman, a professor at McGill University who studies Anonymous, told HuffPost that, although there was "no doubt" the arrests had a serious impact on the group, Anonymous is still very much alive.

"They could easily emerge again as a force to contend with," she added.