Cyberwar: Anonymous Hacked U.S. Government Multiple Times
Notorious hacker group Anonymous announced (and proved) in the middle of February that it gained access to the State Department’s website and also captured a database, which was then published online. It also defaced the site, and published sensitive information, of investment firm George K. Baum & Company – all in the name of Aaron Swartz and Lulzsec. This marks the latest round in a heating cyberwar which is going on between multiple parties. The two dominant players are China and the U.S. which fuel the militarization of cyberspace to reach their national goals, like messing with Iran's nuclear program and conducting large scale industrial espionage.
Anonymous is "just" retaliating against the U.S. government for repressing laws, censorship and being allegedly responsible for the suicide of young internet activist Aaron Swartz. The data dump is part of “round five” of “Operation Last Resort” – Anonymous’ anti-US campaign which was launched shortly after the suicide of
The group posted the names and email addresses of State Department consular and careers staff members on the ZeroBin website. In some cases, their phone numbers and date of birth were also revealed.
Anonymous also defaced the website of George K. Baum and Company, adding a page which linked to the firm’s client and user account credentials, passwords, phone numbers, and access to transaction information.
The group pointed out that the company is linked to Stratfor, a global intelligence firm whose systems were breached by Anonymous in December 2011.
The groups various statements indicate that the hacks have been prompted by two things. First, they were to pay respect to Aaron Swartz who faced up to 35 years in prison and a $1 million fine for the alleged "theft" of PDF files of publicly funded research articles--usually published in expensive online journals by third-party companies for a profit--with the intent to post them online. Swartz hanged himself in his New York apartment last month, in the midst of his controversial case.
Secondly, the hacks appeared to be revenge for the arrests of members of the Lulzsec group – a hacking collective which has claimed responsibility for a number of high profile hacks, including Sony Pictures in 2011, SC Magazine reports.
“Our reasons for this attack are very simple. You’ve imprisoned or either censored our people. We will not tolerate things as such. You don’t see us going around censoring everything that is inappropriate or we do not like. Basically, you tried to put an end to us and you got owned, there’s nothing more you can say or do,” Anonymous wrote next to the leaked data.
“We are only growing stronger because of the fact that you are forcing us to revolt. When the lions roar you will hear them. And when it’s feeding time you’ll be our dinner. Aaron Swartz this is for you, this is for Operation Last Resort,” the group continued.
Along with the attack, the group warned that it still has possession of “warheads” – key codes to unlock encrypted files named after the nine Supreme Court justices, which allegedly contain highly sensitive government information. The files were widely distributed January 25 when Anonymous hacked the US Sentencing Commission website.
This “round five” of “Operation Last Resort” refers to three previous #OpLastResort hacks on the property and databases of the US government, as well as one recently failed threat to interrupt the web broadcast of President Barack Obama’s State of the Union address last week.
In his State of the Union address, Obama announced that he had signed an Executive Order on cyber security. He cited the “growing threat from cyber-attacks” as the reason behind the signing, adding that America must face the rapidly growing threat.
According to the order, “cyber threats” will be defined as “website defacement, espionage, theft of intellectual property, denial of service attacks, and destructive malware,” the White House told The Verge.
Under those guidelines, all of Operation Last Resort’s actions would be considered “cyber threats.”
While the Obama administration aims to tighten security surrounding computer crimes, Anonymous’ #OpLastResort campaign is demanding a “reform of computer crime laws” and investigation of “overzealous prosecutors” in response to Swartz’s suicide.