Anonymous Hackers Still Active, Closing 2011 with a Bang
Anonymous struck again on Monday morning -- and the backlash by the infamous hacking group may not be over yet. Anonymous, which took down Strategic Forecasting's Web site over the weekend, has vowed to strike again. This time, the targets are Stratfor members who are speaking out to support the firm.
As a result of the hack, Stratfor said it has reason to believe the names of its private corporate subscribers have been posted on other Web sites. Its Web site remained down Tuesday afternoon. The last update from Stratfor was Sunday night.
Stratfor sees the hack as retaliation for the treatment of Pfc. Bradley Manning, an Army intelligence analyst charged with leaking more than 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables to the WikiLeaks Web site. WikiLeaks posted many of the cables.
Global Clients Compromised
"It's come to our attention that our members who are speaking out in support of us on Facebook may be being targeted for doing so and are at risk of having sensitive information repeatedly published on other Web sites," the company wrote on its Facebook page. "So, in order to protect yourselves, we recommend taking security precautions when speaking out on Facebook or abstaining from it altogether."
The firm said it was diligently investigating the issue. The data is of an especially sensitive nature, considering Stratfor is a global intelligence firm that deals in business, economic, security and geopolitical affairs. Clients include the U.S. Department of Defense, Lockheed Martin, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Doctors Without Borders and Bank of America.
"Anonymous keeps doing this because it works, and that's part of the problem," said Zeus Kerravala, principal analyst at ZK Research. "PayPal has been the No. 1 target." Anonymous gained fame last year when it issued a hit list of Web sites hostile to WikiLeaks, including PayPal, Visa and MasterCard.
Kerravala is correct. Anonymous attacks work in that they disrupt the business world, but authorities are beginning to find success cracking down on Anonymous members. The first major arrest was made by Dutch police in Dec. 2010 in conjunction with the cyberattacks to protest shutdown of financial contributions to WikiLeaks.
In June, Spanish police celebrated the arrest of three men who allegedly were part of the computer hacking group that launched cyberattacks against Sony's PlayStation Network, among others. Authorities in Turkey, Australia and Great Britain have also made arrests of alleged Anonymous members. But the Anonymous arrests haven't stopped the attacks. Indeed, 2011 saw the rise of hacktivism on many fronts.
Paul Henry, a security analyst at Lumension, told NewsFactor one year ago today that the world hadn't heard the last of WikiLeaks. On Dec. 27, 2011 he said he expected the impact of WikiLeaks to expand well beyond simply embarrassing governments, to releasing data that would cause harm to big-business reputations.
He was right. Despite the fact that its funding has been largely strangled, WikiLeaks continues to be a force to be reckoned with, even if it's only through the attacks of groups like Anonymous.