News & Politics

Federal Reserve: We Got Hacked by Anonymous

The hacktivist collective released the personal information of over 4,000 Wall Street executives during Superbowl Sunday.

Watch out Wall Street Execs: Anonymous is on to you. The Federal Reserve released a statement Tuesday acknowledging that members of Anonymous hacked its system to obtain sensitive information from thousands of bank executives.

On Sunday, Anonymous posted a spreadsheet containing the personal information of over 4,000 bankers to the Web site of the Alabama Criminal Justice Information Center. Though the information has since been removed, ZDNet reports the spreadsheet listed names, addresses, e-mail addresses, login information and IP addresses. Anonymous claimed the attack in a Tweet during the Superbowl:

Now we have your attention America: Anonymous's Superbowl Commercial 4k banker d0x via the FED // … #opLastResort #Anonymous

The Fed is downplaying the breach, telling The Huffington Post that Anonymous’ claim is “overstated.” The Federal Reserve’s St. Louis Branch—where the breach occurred—sent this statement to affected bankers and news media on Tuesday:

The Federal Reserve System has learned that user contact data from its Emergency Communications System (ECS), a system used by the Federal Reserve and state banking departments to notify depository institutions of operational status in the event of natural or other disasters“ was obtained and posted on the internet by an outside group that exploited a temporary vulnerability in a vendor website product. The vulnerability was remediated quickly after discovery, and the incident did not impact any critical operations of the Federal Reserve System.

But Jon Waldman, an in information security consultant, tells ZDNet that the data dump poses a threat to all exposed bankers. He says the Fed “irrevocably LIED to their constituents here.”

An Anonymous campaign called Operation Last Resort over saw the attack. Formed in January as a response to the sucicide of Aaron Swartz, OpLastResort’s Twitter bio states, “This tragedy is basis for reform of computer crime laws, and the overzealous prosecutors.”

The attack comes as the House Oversight Committee awaits a briefing from the Justice Department on its handling Swartz’s case. Many say the Internet activist was driven to death by over zealous prosecutors who charged Swartz on 13 felony counts, adding up to 50 years in prison. On Tuesday, Anonymous confirmed in a Tweet that they hacked the Fed to bring attention to the Swartz case probe:

“We note that the Federal Reserve minidrop earlier was just a counter-distraction to the superbowl distraction. We await the DOJ's statement.”

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Steven Hsieh is an editorial assistant at AlterNet and writer based in Brooklyn. Follow him on Twitter @stevenjhsieh.