US Think Tank Hacked by Anonymous

Dennis Faas's picture

International hacking group Anonymous has struck again, this time infiltrating a US-based security think tank. Experts believe the group made off with email, home addresses, and credit card information.

The think tank in question is Stratfor (which stands for "Strategic Forcasting") based in Austin, Texas. It's an economic, military and political consulting group that dispenses high-level advice, reports and analyses for which a who's who list of subscribers in the security industry and elsewhere are more than willing to pay.

Confidential Client List Includes Army, MSNBC

Experts believe that Stratfor was selected as a target because success would send a warning to some of the company's clients, including media outlets like MSNBC and Al Jazeera English, as well as the U.S. Army and Air Force. Their status as Stratfor clients has now become widely known because of the Anonymous hack, which made public a highly confidential and long list of the think tank's clients. (Source:

Anonymous says it acquired about 200 gigabytes of data via the hack, including sensitive information associated with a large number of banks, law-enforcement agencies, defense organizations, and companies in sensitive high-tech industries.

One member of the hacking organization says the group now intends to use the financial information it gathered in the attack to extract a million dollars from Stratfor clients, and then give the money away in the form of Christmas donations. Anonymous said this would be possible because Stratfor failed to encrypt the client data it stores.

"Not so private and secret anymore?" Anonymous taunted Stratfor and its clients after the hack.

Stratfor Now Scrambling to Fix Leak

Anonymous said in the attack it acquired information related to some 4,000 credit cards.

An unknown number of passwords and client home addresses may also have been captured. However, it's not yet clear whether any of this sensitive data has yet been used to withdraw funds, as threatened, or to make unauthorized purchases. (Source:

Stratfor says it shut down its servers immediately after learning of the hack. Even so, the company reluctantly admitted: "We have reason to believe that the names of our corporate subscribers have been posted on other websites. We are diligently investigating the extent to which subscriber information may have been obtained."

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