We could just call them "computer hackers." But law enforcement officials correctly label them "criminals."
As the New York Times reports, the Spanish police have arrested three individuals suspected of major hacking offenses, including the recent attacks on Sony's PlayStation Network. The National Police have identified the three in custody "as the local leadership of the shadowy international network of computer hackers known as Anonymous." Yeah, we're familiar with their work.
The police statement reminds us that Anonymous is comprised of people from all over the world; they're just organized into cells to serve a common goal. …sounds a hell of a lot like terrorism, doesn't it? Evidently, one of the men they have in custody had a computer server in his apartment in Gijon, "from which the group attacked the Web sites of the Sony PlayStation online gaming store." That same computer was used to attack two Spanish banks, BBVA and Bankia, as well as the Italian energy company Enel, and various government sites in Spain, Egypt, Algeria, Libya, Iran, Chile, Columbia, and New Zealand.
This has been an ongoing investigation as of last October, when hackers broke into the Spanish Ministry of Culture's website to protest Spanish legislation increasing punishments for illegal downloads. All three suspects in question are expected to be charged with "forming an illegal association to attack public and corporate Web sites." …the fact that this only carries a maximum sentence of three years in prison is just plain depressing.
Sony has said the attacks on the PSN will cost at least $173 million in damages. And by the way, the police said they analyzed more than "two million lines of chat logs since October." …that's a lot of lines.