The computer hacking community is gearing up for its own version of the annual Oscars, with two notorious "hacktivist" groups and industry heavyweight WikiLeaks among those vying for the top award.
Infamous hacktivists Anonymous and spinoff group Lulz Security or LulzSec are among those nominated for “Epic 0wnage” -- an award for delivering the most damaging, widely publicized or hilarious hack of the past year.
Both groups are wanted by cyberpolice around the globe.
Should one of the secret hacker groups win the award, organizers will invite a representative up to the podium to claim their “Pwnies” -- the hacker equivalent of an Oscar -- and face the music.
"If somebody from LulzSec or Anonymous decides to show up and accept their Pwnie, we will give it to them," he said. "But they will probably get arrested."
LulzSec is nominated for "hacking everyone," according to the Pwnies website. Victims include Fox.com, Nintendo, the NHS, the U.S. Senate and the CIA. The group has been described as a “cyber terrorism group” by the Arizona Department of Public Safety after their systems were compromised and information leaked.
International police have already arrested numerous members of the groups, including Wednesday’s report that Scotland Yard had apprehended accused LulzSec spokesman "Topiary," and last week's news that "Tflow" had been apprehended and released on bail.
Anonymous was nominated for hacking into the email accounts of security firm HBGary Federal, then publishing the emails of its executives on the Web.
Originating in 2003 on the imageboard 4chan, the group has since taken on a distinct brand of civil disobedience and international hacktivism, targeting organizations such as the Church of Scientology, Sony, and Bank of America.
Last week, sixteen suspected members of Anonymous were arrested in a nationwide sweep from Californa to New York by the FBI.
Others nominated include the virus Stuxnet which security experts say was designed to attack a nuclear enrichment facility in Iran and WikiLeaks, for publishing thousands of secret U.S. government cables.
Sony and EMC's RSA Security division will also be recognized at next week's award ceremony, for the dubious distinction of having fallen victim to hackers.
Sony is the sole nominee in the category "Most Epic Fail," so it is guaranteed to win the award after falling victim to a series of high-profile hacks, which resulted in the theft of personal data on more than 100 million customers.
RSA Security is the highest-profile nominee in the category of "Lamest Vendor Response."
It was criticized for its handling of an attack on its network that resulted in the theft of data related to its SecurID technology, which companies use to confirm the identity of network users.
Hackers used the information they stole from RSA to launch a subsequent attack on contractor Lockheed Martin Corp.
While the Pwnies may be tongue-in-cheek, the awards represent a serious attempt to acknowledge the people and events that have made the biggest impact on the hacking community over the past year, said Dino Dai Zovi, one of the organizers of the event.
He is one of several Pwnies judges who will pick the winners from a list of candidates nominated through the organization's website.
Pwnies is pronounced like "ponies" and refers to the hacking slang term Pwned, which means "owned" or controlled by a hacker.
Winners will receive a Hasbro "My Little Pony" figurine, painted gold, at a ceremony on August 3 during the Black Hat hacking conference in Las Vegas.
News services contributed to this report.