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Security roundup: The fury of Anonymous, the humiliation of Stratfor

And how virtualization is changing security

By , Network World
January 13, 2012 03:22 PM ET

Network World - The hactivist group Anonymous, or at least someone with the handle "FuryOfAnon" who claims to be part of the collective, last week published a list of Internet-facing Israeli SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems and purported log-in details. "Who wanna have some fun with Israeli scada systems?" the message said.

As a politically motivated group, Anonymous is believed to be currently engaged in an effort to hack Israeli websites as part of an operation called Operation Free Palestine -- but this invitation to subvert industrial-control systems ups the ante to the point of physical danger.

ANALYSIS: What does 2012 have in store for Anonymous?

One recent victim of Anonymous, Austin, Texas-based Stratfor Global Intelligence, knows about hactivist violence. Stratfor brought its website back online last week after shutting it down following intrusions in December, for which Anonymous claimed responsibility, and the posting of the names and credit card numbers of 75,000 people who had paid for Stratfor's research (as well as posting hundreds of thousands of names and email addresses of those registered with Stratfor). There were also reports of several fraudulent transactions made with this stolen credit-card information, such as charities, which probably didn't appreciate having to waste time sorting out credit-card fraud.

Why was Stratfor hit? Anonymous probably thinks Stratfor, which publishes geopolitical analysis, is somehow the "hub of a global conspiracy" with tentacles into governments or those in power, noted George Friedman, Stratfor CEO, in a video he made and posted on YouTube last week.

This is a remarkable video -- I can't recall any other beleaguered exec do anything like this after a major cyberattack -- and in this video Friedman says his firm simply publishes analysis and makes it available to subscribers. After apologizing for mistakes such as lack of security in encrypting credit cards, Friedman says the firm has regrouped with help from consultants and is working with the FBI. Friedman accuses Anonymous of "abuse and censorship," pointing out that the attackers destroyed four servers in their quest to bring down Stratfor. "We were shocked at the destruction," Friedman says, adding, "the attempt to silence us has failed." In the video, Friedman concludes, "we certainly expect to be attacked again."

BUZZBLOG: Stratfor CEO's 'censorship' rhetoric all wrong

And that's the heart of the matter. Though it's usually about exposing information to embarrass targets and try to destroy them that way, hactivism, at least under the Anonymous label, is growing more violent.

More in cyberattack trends

A variant of the Sykipot Trojan Horse has been identified that hijacks U.S. Department of Defense smart cards in order to access restricted resources, according to security researcher Jaime Blasco at Alien Vault. The firm claims one of the Sykipot variants is designed to work with ActivIdentity ActivClient, an authentication software product compliant with DOD's Common Access card specification.

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