The Korea Herald


'Anonymous' hackers target US security think tank


Published : Dec. 26, 2011 - 10:21

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LONDON (AP) _ The loose-knit hacking movement ``Anonymous'' claimed to have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and other personal information belonging to clients of U.S.-based security think tank Stratfor. One hacker said the goal was to pilfer funds from individuals' accounts to give away as Christmas donations, and some victims confirmed unauthorized transactions linked to their credit cards.

Anonymous boasted of stealing Stratfor's confidential client list, which includes entities ranging from Apple Inc. to the U.S. Air Force to the Miami Police Department, and mining it for more than 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and home addresses.

Austin, Texas-based Stratfor provides political, economic and military analysis to help clients reduce risk, according to a description on its YouTube page. It charges subscribers for its reports and analysis, delivered through the web, emails and videos. The company's main website was down, with a banner saying the ``site is currently undergoing maintenance.''

Proprietary information about the companies and government agencies that subscribe to Stratfor's newsletters did not appear to be at any significant risk, however, with the main threat posed to individual employees who had subscribed.

``Not so private and secret anymore?'' Anonymous taunted in a message on Twitter, promising that the attack on Stratfor was just the beginning of a Christmas-inspired assault on a long list of targets.

Anonymous said the client list it had already posted was a small slice of the 200 gigabytes worth of plunder it stole from Stratfor and promised more leaks. It said it was able to get the credit card details in part because Stratfor didn't bother encrypting them _ an easy-to-avoid blunder which, if true, would be a major embarrassment for any security-related company.

Fred Burton, Stratfor's vice president of intelligence, said the company had reported the intrusion to law enforcement and was working with them on the investigation.

Stratfor has protections in place meant to prevent such attacks, he said.

``But I think the hackers live in this kind of world where once they fixate on you or try to attack you it's extraordinarily difficult to defend against,'' Burton said.

Hours after publishing what it claimed was Stratfor's client list, Anonymous tweeted a link to encrypted files online with names, phone numbers, emails, addresses and credit card account details.

``Not as many as you expected? Worry not, fellow pirates and robin hoods. These are just the `A's,'' read a message posted online that encouraged readers to download a file of the hacked information.

The attack is ``just another in a massive string of breaches we've seen this year and in years past,'' said Josh Shaul, chief technology officer of Application Security Inc., a New York-based provider of database security software.

Still, companies that shared secret information with Stratfor in order to obtain threat assessments might worry that the information is among the 200 gigabytes of data that Anonymous claims to have stolen, he said.

``If an attacker is walking away with that much email, there might be some very juicy bits of information that they have,'' Shaul said.

Lt. Col. John Dorrian, public affairs officer for the Air Force, said that ``for obvious reasons'' the Air Force doesn't discuss specific vulnerabilities, threats or responses to them.

``The Air Force will continue to monitor the situation and, as always, take appropriate action as necessary to protect Air Force networks and information,'' he said in an email.

Miami Police Department spokesman Sgt. Freddie Cruz Jr. said that he could not confirm that the agency was a client of Stratfor, and he said he had not received any information about a security breach involving the police department.

Anonymous also linked to images online that it suggested were receipts for charitable donations made by the group manipulating the credit card data it stole.

``Thank you! Defense Intelligence Agency,'' read the text above one image that appeared to show a transaction summary indicating that an agency employee's information was used to donate $250 to a non-profit.

One receipt _ to the American Red Cross _ had Allen Barr's name on it.

Barr, of Austin, Texas, recently retired from the Texas Department of Banking and said he discovered last Friday that a total of $700 had been spent from his account. Barr, who has spent more than a decade dealing with cybercrime at banks, said five transactions were made in total.

``It was all charities, the Red Cross, CARE, Save the Children. So when the credit card company called my wife she wasn't sure whether I was just donating,'' said Barr, who wasn't aware until a reporter with the AP called that his information had been compromised when Stratfor's computers were hacked.

``It made me feel terrible. It made my wife feel terrible. We had to close the account.''

Wishing everyone a ``Merry LulzXMas'' _ a nod to its spinoff hacking group Lulz Security _ Anonymous also posted a link on Twitter to a site containing the email, phone number and credit number of a U.S. Homeland Security employee.

The employee, Cody Sultenfuss, said he had no warning before his details were posted.

``They took money I did not have,'' he told The Associated Press in a series of emails, which did not specify the amount taken. ``I think `Why me?' I am not rich.''

But the breach doesn't necessarily pose a risk to owners of the credit cards. A card user who suspects fraudulent activity on his or her card can contact the credit card company to dispute the charge.

Stratfor said in an email to members, signed by Stratfor Chief Executive George Friedman and passed on to AP by subscribers, that it had hired a ``leading identity theft protection and monitoring service'' on behalf of the Stratfor members affected by the attack. The company said it will send another email on services for affected members by Wednesday.

Stratfor acknowledged that an ``unauthorized party'' had revealed personal information and credit card data of some of its members.

The company had sent another email to subscribers earlier in the day saying it had suspended its servers and email after learning that its website had been hacked.

One member of the hacking group, who uses the handle AnonymousAbu on Twitter, claimed that more than 90,000 credit cards from law enforcement, the intelligence community and journalists _ ``corporate/exec accounts of people like Fox'' News _ had been hacked and used to ``steal a million dollars'' and make donations.

It was impossible to verify where credit card details were used. Fox News was not on the excerpted list of Stratfor members posted online, but other media organizations including MSNBC and Al-Jazeera English appeared in the file.

Anonymous warned it has ``enough targets lined up to extend the fun fun fun of LulzXmas through the entire next week.''

The group has previously claimed responsibility for attacks on credit card companies Visa Inc. and MasterCard Inc., eBay Inc.'s PayPal, as well as other groups in the music industry and the Church of Scientology.


<한글 기사>

현대판 로빈후드? 해커집단 "카드정보 빼내 기부"

공공기관 종사자 등 무단 인출 피해사례도 확인
어나너머스 "성탄 기부 위해"…후속 유사 해킹 예고

해커 조직 '어나너머스'가 미 민간 전략정보분석기관 '스트 랫포'의 고객 개인정보 수천 건을 빼냈다고 25일 밝혔다.

어나너머스는 훔친 고객 정보 속에서 신용카드 번호 및 암호 4천 건 이상을 추출했다며 인터넷을 통해 고객 명단과 해킹한 정보 등을 공개했다. 고객 목록에는 애플 등 대기업을 비롯해 미 공군과 마이애미경찰국 등 공공기관이 대거 들어있다.

이와 함께 국토안보부 직원과 전직 금융 당국 종사자 등 국가기관과 주요 기업 종사자의 민감한 개인정보도 함께 노출됐다.

이번 해킹의 목적이 '성탄절 기부'라고 밝힌 어나너머스는 훔친 정보 속에서 신용카드 정보를 확보했다면서, '최고 정보분석기관'을 표방하는 스트랫포가 고객정보를 암호화조차 해놓지 않았다고 주장했다.

현재까지 파악된 바로는 기업과 정부기관의 내부정보는 유출되지 않았지만 고객 사 직원들의 피해 가능성이 큰 것으로 알려졌다.

어나너머스는 해킹 성공을 공지한 지 몇 시간 후 빼낸 신용카드 정보를 이용해 자선단체에 기부금을 보냈다며 일부 송금 내역을 인터넷에 올려놨다.

예를 들어 미 적십자사 앞으로 보낸 기부금 영수증에는 텍사스주 금융 당국에서 사이버범죄 업무를 담당하다 최근 은퇴한 '앨런 바'라는 전 직원의 이름이 찍혀 있었다.

국토안보부 직원의 전화번호와 이메일, 신용카드 정보 등도 인터넷에 노출됐다.

이 조직은 이번 공격이 앞으로 있을 일련의 '성탄절 해킹'의 시작이라고 엄포를 놨다.

한편 어나너머스의 한 회원은 사법 당국과 정보기관 직원, 언론인 등 9만명의 신용카드 정보를 해킹해 100만달러를 기부했다는 글을 트위터에 올렸다.

스트랫포는 해킹 공격을 받은 사실뿐 아니라 고객정보가 암호화하지 않고 보관했다는 어나너머스의 주장으로 난처한 상황에 빠졌다.

스트랫포는 웹사이트 해킹 사실을 인지한 후 고객들에게 최고경영자 명의로 이메일을 보내 서버와 이메일 작업을 중단했다고 공지했다.