Hacktivist group Anonymous claim they have stolen thousands of emails, passwords and credit car details from Stratfor: a US-based data security firm.
Information at the Austin-based company was unecrypted, meaning obtaining the information was a simple operation. Rather troubling since Stratfor's clients include the likes of the US defence department, Apple inc., various law enforcement agencies and media organisations. The firm has since suspended all operations on their servers.
In a release from Anonymous, they claim this to be the beginning of a set of attacks to "end 2011 with a bang."
That’s not all folks. 0h hell n0. Tomorrow, we will be dropping another enormous dump on our next target: the entire customer database from an online military and law enforcement supply store.
To add a further layer of convolution to this story, a second release has been identified, which categorically denies Anonymous' responsibility in the takedown of Stratfor. In what's been called an 'Emergency Christmas Anonymous Press Release,' denials to allegations of partakings in the hacking have been made, saying that it's a second set of hackers who have created the story and baited a few key members of anonymous into it.
Stratfor is an open source intelligence agency, publishing daily reports on data collected from the open internet. Hackers claiming to be Anonymous have distorted this truth in order to further their hidden agenda, and some Anons have taken the bait.
So the second release, nicely titled 'Merry Lulzxmas,' discusses the original Emergency Release, claiming that it is a fake that capitalises on the decentralisation and...well...anonymity of Anonymous that people want to find out so much about.
We are aware that there has been some confusion as to whether the STRATFOR hack is an "official" Anonymous operation, due to a ridiculous "Emergency Anonymous Press Statement" being circulated, undermining our work while also making baseless accusations that we frequently see perpetrated by agent provocateurs.
Whichever perspective people hold on this situation, the one thing that's for sure is that it's put the computer-based culture jammers at the forefront of public discussion again.
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I am the Founder and Editor-in-chief of New Rising Media. You can follow me on Twitter @MrJasonEngland.