Cyber activists linked to Anonymous have rebuffed allegations that the collective could potentially threaten the power grid by staging a coordinated cyber attack.
"Why would Anons shut off a power grid?” the group tweeted on @YourAnonNews. "There are ppl on life support/other vital services that rely on it. Try again NSA. #FearMongering."
The above-mentioned statement was posted just hours after the director of the National Security Agency (NSA) expressed concern that hackers aligned with Anonymous could cause a "limited power outage" by executing a digital attack.
Indeed, according to the Wall Street Journal, Gen. Keith Alexander believes the group is a year or two away from achieving such capabilities.
However, Anonymous has thus far contented itself with hack and extract operations against corporate and government targets, and has yet to list power blackouts as a goal.
It should be noted that Alexander’s assessment of Anonymous stands in stark contrast to public statements made by other law enforcement agencies, such as the FBI, which recently referred to the collective as "unsophisticated."
According to the Boston Herald, the bureau perceives the collective as a "pack of cyber vandals" which routinely attack various targets, including corporations, government websites and law enforcement networks.
"Their attacks are not sophisticated, but they are nevertheless criminal," an FBI spokesperson told the publication.
Such disparate viewpoints only serve to illustrate the growing rift between the FBI, NSA and the US Cyber Command (USCYBERCOM) over Anonymous. To be sure, the FBI seems content to classify the collective as a criminal organization with limited capabilities, while the military and NSA tend to offer a more realistic assessment of the group’s strategy and potential.