In the last week of 2011, the online activist group 'Anonymous' announced that it had secured access to a huge database of official email addresses and passwords from US-based intelligence and analysis firm Stratfor. It promised to use this data to attack and expose the workings of the global intelligence world, but until now it's been largely unclear what those plans might include. A closer look at the data released now gives some sense of the scope of what Strafor was holding, and the kind of officials that Anonymous hopes to disrupt.
The Guardian reports today:
Thousands of British email addresses and encrypted passwords, including those of defence, intelligence and police officials as well as politicians and Nato advisers, have been revealed on the internet following a security breach by hackers.
Among the huge database of private information exposed by self-styled "hacktivists" are the details of 221 British military officials and 242 Nato staff. Civil servants working at the heart of the UK government – including several in the Cabinet Office as well as advisers to the Joint Intelligence Organisation that acts as the prime minister's eyes and ears on sensitive information – have also been exposed.
The exposure of the database came after hackers – who are believed to be part of the Anonymous group – gained unauthorised access over Christmas to the account information of Stratfor, a consultancy based in Texas that specialises in foreign affairs and security issues. The database had recorded in spreadsheets the user IDs – usually email addresses – and encrypted passwords of about 850,000 individuals who had subscribed to Stratfor's website.
The sheer size of the release indicates that most individuals are either low or mid-level goverment or military officials, but some notable names were also included in the database leak:
In the US case, [an analyst found], 173 individuals deployed in Afghanistan and 170 in Iraq can be identified. Personal data from the former vice-president Dan Quayle and Henry Kissinger, former secretary of state, were also released.