The 13 Best Hacker Attacks Against Military Security Companies, the FBI, the Kochs ... and Arizona
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"Anonymous" is a nebulous collective of hackers who, for several months, have been waging a campaign against institutions and governments that seek to censor the web and hinder free expression. Their brand of cyber activism—"hacktivism," as it were—has engaged in various types of protest and civil disobedience; they have pulled down websites, unleashed documents, and challenged the security of various sites. And, since brother group "LulzSec" launched its politically minded "AntiSec" initiative in June, their targets have been increasingly purposeful, and often executed in solidarity with real-life protesters on the ground and in the streets.
For instance, on July 12, in what Anonymous called “Military Meltdown Monday,” they released documents obtained by hacking into Booz Allen Hamilton, a company providing apparently pallid web security for major government and military agencies—a breach that resulted in its stock dropping 2.3 percent. After unleashing 90,000 logins and passwords from the Army, the Navy, the Department of Justice and NASA,
Anonymous tweeted out their caveat: “We are not your enemy. Here is just a fraction of what we decided to not publish: http://imagebin.org/162370 | Silent No More. #Antisec.”
Anonymous tweets and public statements are generally rife with mischief, often ribbing their targets for failing to provide the super-tight security they promise their high-level clients. But the bigger picture is that, even though most of Anonymous’ leaks over the past month have consisted of passwords and email addresses, as they’ve run with the now-defunct LulzSec’s #AntiSec torch, their actions and public statements are increasingly conscientious and pointed. As #AntiSec was initially spurred by WikiLeaks—mirroring their hero Bradley Manning’s concept that “Information Should be Free”—so too they’ve picked up that site’s original moral mission.
Here, possibly the most explosive and/or useful hacks since Anonymous and LulzSec became "hacktivists."
1. HBGary’s WikiLeaks Target Document For Bank of America
As the Atlantic pointed out in its solid timeline of the current hacktivist generation, Anonymous’ hacking into web security group HBGary was a turning point. In their hack of nearly 70,000 emails—made in retaliation for a staff member who threatened to go public with their identities to the FBI and others—they discovered a Powerpoint file that explored various ways of countering and discrediting WikiLeaks. The document was compiled for Bank of America, which feared a large dump of potentially incriminating cables, though as of last month, Wikileaks still hadn’t loosed the information and BoA was still reportedly in the dark as to what the leaks might be.
But it was proof-positive that major corporations were looking into ways to discredit and take down WikiLeaks and Julian Assange. In conjunction with Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies, analytics companies with government clients and counter-terrorism pedigrees, HBGary proposed to “combat the WikiLeaks threat” and to profile journalists supportive of WikiLeaks. Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, BradBlog's Brad Friedman, the New York Times’ Jenny 8. Lee, and the Guardian’s James Ball were categorized on the Powerpoint as WikiLeaks “volunteers,” and were apparently monitored, as detailed in Friedman's piece on AlterNet here.
Greenwald, in particular, was a target; on his own dedicated slide, the firms pointed out that “without the support of people like Glenn, WikiLeaks would fold.” This was, of course, the idea behind it, and the strategists seemed to believe that, given the choice of career vs. personal cause, the journalists would preserve their careers. From an i nternal email: “it is this level of support we need to attack.”
As for the general public, ironically, one of the HBGary strategies mirrors those of hackers: creating “doubt about their security”—the prime pressure point hacktivists use against web-censoring governments.