When news of their planned attacks against CNN's Web site was published last week, the Chinese hacking group "Revenge of the Flame" postponed their attack, due to there being too much public awareness of their plans. Since that news was made public, and under the increasing attention of the global media, it seems that it has all become too much for "Revenge of the Flame" and they have announced their disbandment.
In a turnaround from their previously open communication, the two apparent leaders of "Revenge of the Flame," Chinese hackers only known as cn_magistrate and hackerwolf, have issued a statement that they are disbanding the group as a hacking group and have taken down the main website where information was being initially published.
Rather than completely disbanding, it appears that "Revenge of the Flame" have had a change of heart and are now devoting themselves to the diligent study of technology and the improvement of their knowledge.
The leaders also issued statements that they have ceased any action they had already commenced, no longer advocate the attack, and that any attack that does take place has not been approved by them and is not an official act of the group.
Nudged from Above?
From the significant change of tone and expression in their recent statements, going from a hacker group intent on teaching CNN a lesson, to a "patriotic study organization," it would appear that "Revenge of the Flame," or at least senior members of the group, were leaned on by authority figures to change their ways. If they weren't actually pressured by authority to change, then it would be the fear of what may be done to them that could account for the rapid and significant changes.
Reference to national effects for their actions ("...this has already obstructed the motherland's normal network communications. This is something we do not wish to see happen.") certainly suggests this to be the case, as does the exhortation that "any attack whatsoever, regardless if it is by an individual or an organization, has serious consequences!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!". For a group not normally given to extravagant use of exclamation, the presence of so many for a single sentence is strongly suggestive of something having happened behind the scenes.
If nothing else is drawn from the incident, it highlights the power that open and free reporting of information can have against groups that are trying to engage in disruptive activities.
This story, "Chinese Hackers Drop CNN Vendetta" was originally published by Computerworld Australia.