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UNLV Student Among Those Charged in Hacking Attack | Crime

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UNLV Student Among Those Charged in Hacking Attack
Crime

LAS VEGAS -- The FBI uncovered some of the faces behind the digital crusaders known as Anonymous. Twenty-year-old UNLV journalism major Mercedes Haefer is one of 16 people arrested in nine states for an alleged coordinated attack against PayPal. The virtual strike was in retaliation for the company's suspension of WikiLeaks accounts.

"It's new knowledge to me, and it's kind of crazy. Who would of thought that a hacker is living in our own backyard? I was thinking maybe another part of this country, maybe, not in this country," said UNLV student Travis True.

Haefer, code named "No", is seen on her Facebook page disguised with bunny ears, fake moustaches, and eyebrows. The FBI alleges Haefer and 15 other defendants associated with Anonymous used their extensive computer knowledge to shut down PayPal for a period of time.

"They're very directed when they go after someone. It's very specific. They're not scattered all over the place when they want to attack a specific place or person or organization. They attack them," said UNLV student Christopher Madison.

Anonymous has posted dozens of videos online about its moral code against injustice and inequality. The group threatens to unleash its skilled hackers on businesses and governments that are contrary to its goals. One man, who asked that his identity not be revealed, is a member of Anonymous.

"You have a site online. All of a sudden, we snap our fingers, and that site is gone," he said.

The technical strategy is called a "distributed denial of service". That's when hackers flood a website with requests until it crashes.

"There are two sides to the coin. I admire their capabilities. I just wish that they directed it in a more positive manner," Madison said.

Haefer also worked at Sony at the Forum Shops. Anonymous has taken credit for hacking the websites of the CIA as well as the City of Orlando, after Orlando police arrested people for handing out sandwiches to the homeless without a permit.

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