You may recall this past Christmas Eve, members of Anonymous had stolen emails and credit card data from Stratfor’s. To say they did a doozie of a job was an understatement. All that was left by the time the hactivists finished with their damage was a one page message from Stratfor’s that said the site was undergoing maintenance and to place check back soon. Following the breach, Jeremy Hammond was arrested.
Anonymous claimed to have accessed and stolen the company’s entire client list, complete with credit card information, and then used that information to make various charitable donations. Unfortunately, the FBI announced today it did far more than make a few contributions to their favorite charities.
With claims that more than 200 gigabytes of data had been compromised, the group went on to call Stratfor “clueless” and had left its entire database vulnerable. It said the passwords weren’t encrypted and many were simply “stratfor”. It said the company’s failure to encrypt the passwords should make them feel ashamed and called it an “embarrassing mistake” especially for a company that dealt with security. Anonymous then posted that information in a public forum. And then – things got really bad.
Today, the FBI revealed that there were $700,000 in fraudulent credit card charges – and these were not the charitable contributions.
At least $700,000 worth of unauthorized charges were made to credit card accounts that were among those stolen during the Stratfor Hack,
said Mahil Patel of the FBI to a judge overseeing the Stratfor case.
Keep in mind, Stratfor is the agency with the high-profile clients including Lockheed Martin, Bank of America and, of course, the Department of Defense.
After the charitable contributions were made to agencies such as the Red Cross and CARE, a security expert stepped forward and said the charities would not be receiving the funds after all and that the money stolen for those donations would be returned to the owners. Making matters worse, the charities then had to shoulder the expenses associated with processing the credit card donations and then backing them out of their systems. This was before today’s FBI announcement, though.
One victim said $300 was charged to buy hooded sweatshirts. It’s believed the initial $700,000 figure will soon grow as more consumers begin closely reviewing their credit card statements. The $700,000 figure was one given to a judge in the case that one analyst said was “close” to accurate as of early February.
Along with the thousands of credit card numbers and other personally identifiable information, Anonymous also stole emails from many Stratfor executives, including chief executive George Friedman. These emails were then given to the controversial Wikileaks which, with participation from a number of publications around the world, began publishing the emails in late February. Some of those emails held what Wikileaks considered damning information, including odd nicknames such as “Hizzies” for members of Hezbollah and “Adogg” for referencing Iran president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
On February 26, 2012, WikiLeaks announced the initial publishing of over 5 million of the company’s emails that was given to it by Anonymous. George Friedman says he believes some of those emails were either forged or altered by WikiLeaks or Anonymous, or both.
This controversy came at a time when another hactivist group hit the headlines as many arrests were made around the world of Anonymous members. Now, the new group, The Consortium, has hacked into a porn site and stolen what executives say was close to 40,000 data sets that include unencrypted information, including credit card numbers, CSV numbers, expiration dates and other identifiable information. It says it won’t be releasing the information, however, it was looking for a way to announce its arrival. Still, that’s of little comfort considering Anonymous had at least one person who became greedy in his efforts of “saving the world”.
It doesn’t look as though the arrests will deter the “big picture” in terms of those determined to get their message out there. As one analyst said,
As long as there are vulnerabilities in the information system of a company, there will be a hack standing by and willing to compromise that vulnerability in the name of righting the wrongs.
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