Anonymous: Modern day Robin Hood or Hackers Unlimited?
Nobody will ever wish to get a gift like the one Stratfor got last Christmas. For those who came in late, Stratfor is a Texas based security think-tank with strategic links with the CIA. On December 24th, 2011, the database of Stratfor was hacked byÂ Anonymous. Hackers broke into the Stratfor servers and made off with 200 gigabytes of sensitive data including credit card details, e-mail addresses, phone numbers, and passwords. All this information belonged to the subscribers of Stratfor which include defense and intelligence officials, politicos, and even NATO advisers.
Is Anonymous the 99 percent?
The damage done is only being assessed now as the hackers have released thousands of passwords and e-mail addresses of top officials belonging to MoD and NATO. Even though these revelations do not pose an immediate threat to national security or military operations, they raise doubts about the security measures of an organization that takes pride in itself about being an authority on defense issues. Needless to say, it’s already causing a lot of heartache for those whose credit card details were stolen as Anonymous claims to have donated US$ 500,000 in stolen cash to charities like Red Cross, Save the Children, and CARE. But there’s much beneath the veneer and Anonymous’ hacking attack on Stratfor is more symbolic than just to make away with sensitive data belonging to a highly sought-after security group. To the loose splinter groups linked to Anonymous, it’s an attack on the elite group of people who are power players by the sheer dint of their economic and political clout. In fact this intelligence company is spoken of as the "shadow CIA" in intelligence circles due to the clout it has and the ways in which it operates.
Even intelligence agencies not safe from hackers?
Statfor uses a well-connected global network of sources to prepare daily intelligence reports on financial and security risks. And now Anonymous is on a spree divulging juicy pieces of sensitive information like e-mails, login IDs, and passwords of hundreds of officials from the US and UK intelligence agencies, American armed forces, NATO staffers and even that of the 173 personnel deployed in Iraq. Interestingly, so far Statfor has only published 19,000 e-mails in the leak and is sitting on 2.7 million confidential mails which can expose their sources. This can be really damaging for Stratfor and further corrode their reputation. In fact, Anonymous goes on to say that they were able to lay their hands on the data more easily because of the fact that Stratfor had made an age-old blunder of not encrypting their credit card details. This statement only adds to the already tarnished image of Stratfor. Anonymous’ hack attack on Stratfor is one of the largest in recent times and is a strong protest against shady agencies that tend to suppress free speech and support web censorship with means like SOPA and PIPA. Looks like the party just got started and there’s likely to be more fireworks before it finally ends.