Happening in Habersham: Hacktivist group anonymous targets Habersham County



Sports Editor, Interim EIC

On Feb. 1, YouTube user “Jack Rabbit” posted a video of a man claiming to be part of the “hacktivist” group Anonymous. 

Donning the known symbol of Anonymous, a Guy Fawkes mask, the disguised voice threatened Habersham County over the recent incident where a flash-bang grenade was unintentionally thrown into a toddler’s crib by a Habersham County special response team during a search with a “no-knock warrant.” 

In this video, the voice says, “Anonymous proposes that you do what you have to do to pay the family’s medical bills. Otherwise, Anonymous will seize your bank assets and take any money we can find from your corrupt government entity, and we will pay for the child’s medical bills with your money.”

Since then, Habersham County officials have been pushing to tighten the security of their cyber system as well as the physical security of the local government officials. 

According to Habersham County Commissioner and Piedmont’s Director of Student Activities and Campus Events Natalie Crawford, the county has experienced cyber attacks where the personal information of government employees was released to the public.

Crawford explained that when the “flash-bang” case was first released to the public, many government employees were threatened, and with exposed personal information, these threats could escalate to something much more dangerous. 

Right now, the county has handed the case over to a federal entity to determine who posted the video and what their next step should be.

Habersham County Sheriff Joey Terrell said that the county has not seen any evidence of a hacker in their system, yet.  

However, according to Assistant Professor of Computer and Information Systems at Rice University and Associate Director of the Center for Information Security Research and Education Chris Bronk, if Anonymous made the threat, they already have access to the system the county depends on.

“If these kinds of threats are real, they [Habersham County] need to be proactive about getting a message out and reply to the threat,” said Bronk. 

There is some speculation that this video was not actually posted by someone within Anonymous.

“The information given to us is that they [the federal entity] believe it is a copycat,” said Terrell.

He said that if it were Anonymous, they would make their presence known, and taking the video off of YouTube combined with the idea that the county’s IT department is not seeing any evidence of the “hacktivists” yet is not in the “true fashion” of Anonymous. 

Still the county is taking all the necessary precautions.

Habersham County District Attorney Brian Rickman said, “In this business, it should be treated as 100 percent genuine until you prove otherwise.”

But why is the county not currently planning on paying for the child’s medical bills?

Well, to put it simply, because it is illegal. 

Crawford said, “That [paying for the child’s medical bills] would set a serious precedent, no matter where the fault lies.”

So the county has to wait until all litigation is settled and wait for a court-order on what action to take in this case.

“This is what we have a justice system for,” said Rickman.

Crawford said that in Habersham, citizens tend to rally around one another in times of trouble, and this situation showed her just how much the community needs to make sure there is always an open dialogue during occurrences like this. 

“We are a good community. We are a strong community, and this situation has been hard for the whole community,” said Crawford. 

Now, the county focuses on keeping up with their internet security while the federal entity they handed the case to does its job. 

“We have done all we can basically do,” said Terrell. 

(Picture from RT.com)