Thousands of government and private organisations are taking a close look at their accounts after Anonymous Group linked hackers stole credit card info from a security firm in America on Christmas Eve and used the money they stole to make charity donations.
The attack was focused on Texas based Stratfor, a company that offers analysis to international clients on security issues and works with oil companies, banks, and police agencies.
Outside of claiming to donate around $500,000 to online charities with the stolen data, the hackers also posted pieces of their haul online with files that listed credit card numbers of over 50,000 different people and agencies, 44,000 passwords that were encrypted, and about 87,000 email addresses.
Major British firms that were named in the files include HSBC, BP, and Tesco. A few days later, on Boxing Day, the hackers also published what they claimed were emails that came off the servers of Stratfor with the attached message that this was just a minor preview of what more mayhem they were going to cause.
According to additional messages that were posted, the Stratfor attack was supposedly part of the Anonymous campaign against the private security market and referred to the action as ‘Operation Robin Hood.’ However, observers stated that the campaign actually backfired because instead of helping charities the groups that received donations will now be tied up with administration tasks as they sort through the fraudulent donations and work on returning the money where it is due.
Chief Researcher for F-Secure, Mikko Hypponen, stated that it looks a bit like a Robin Hood plan to steal from the rich and then give to those who are poor but the harm was done more to the charities then anyone else. This is due to the fact that those who see fraudulent credit card charges are going to report them and then the charities will be forced to return the money and even face penalties, which will end up hurting them not to mention the time investment that it is going to take to clear up these matters.
Chief Executive for Stratfor went on Facebook to recognise the attack and publicly apologise to their clients as their own website remains offline for the time being. The statement written by George Friedman states that some of their members had their credit information disclosed and that they are working with law enforcement and also working to get their website back up and running.
He also added that in the future Stratfor will be working with an identity theft protection firm to prevent this type of situation from occurring again in the future. He also asked supporters not to speak out about the attacks on Facebook because of concern that they will become targets for future attacks by the group.