Wondering if the swift emergence and equally sudden disbanding of the hacker collective LulzSec will mean we will enjoy a respite from the relentless onslaught of cyber attacks against both private and public sector targets?
Don't hold your breath.
The likely scenario is that the core leadership of rogue groups like LulzSec and Anonymous will be concentrating on efforts to educate and arm an even greater swarm of would-be Internet anarchists.
In LulzSec's farewell, the collective informally announced the creation of the AntiSecPro Security Team, seemingly with the goal in mind to spread the tools and knowledge required for other hacktivists to take up the LulzSec mantel:
"Currently we are developing structure and hierarchy... This group is about education and real life exercise of what we know and learn. We considering computer security and hacking equally correlated to each other. The process of penetration, exploitation and hacking only progresses the necessity for better security and product development. This promotes more advanced technology and a better experience for the majority of computer users..."
We have also now seen the emergence of the Anonymous-backed School4lulz, a resource for hi-tech hooligans to learn the finer art of hacking, cross-site scripting, SQL injections, botnet herding, doxing, and tools of the trade.
By concentrating on instruction and inspiration, the core leadership of these now infamous hacker networks can effectively remove themselves as primary targets for law enforcement and anti-AntiSec hackers like The Jester (th3j35t3r) and the Web Ninjas, and instead encourage their less-savvy teen minions to commit the attacks and take the heat.
And what can we expect from this shift from committing attacks to arming attackers? Probably a lot more 'lone-wolf' and upstart hackers who want to make some headlines and garner some street cred with idealistic attacks on big name companies and organizations, such as in Tuesday's denial of service assault against Mastercard.
The RegisterUK reports that "Twitter user @ibomhacktivist claimed responsibility for the reported assault, which it said had been motivated by Mastercard's decision to suspend an account maintained by WikiLeaks in the wake of the whistle-blowing site's decision to start releasing leaked US diplomatic cables last November. Or something like that..."
The hacktivist announced his attack with the following Twitter message:
"MasterCard.com DOWN!!!, thats what you get when you mess with @wikileaks @Anon_Central and the enter community of lulz loving individuals :D".
So, if you have already grown weary from reading headline after headline about new attacks by faceless egoists whose only real interest is to start fires for the pleasure of watching stuff burn, you are in for a long summer. Maybe a long year. Several perhaps.
For better or worse, 2011 will be remembered as the year hacktivists set the Internet on fire, and given the lax security protocols that make up the current staus quo, we can expect this fire to burn for some time to come.