Stratfor online after the IT attack

January 13, 2012
by Maurizio Agazzi

After the shock caused by the destruction of its servers on Christmas Eve, the well-known private intelligence company returns to the Internet

The Stratfor website is once more up and running. The President of the company, George Friedman, has analysed the IT attack that blocked the servers of the private intelligence company and has made the report publicly available on its website

Two were the attacks, which in December 2011 were planned against the company’s servers. The intent: to discredit Stratfor in the eyes of the world, degrade and perhaps even cause the disintegration of the digital presence of the company itself. The second attack, on 24 December 2011, was absolutely devastating. The hackers broke into the IT defences of the company, putting its processors out of service («But our shock was at the destruction of our servers» [George Friedman]). The special FBI agents on the case are still investigating, and refuse to release information regarding the authors of the attack.

Upon request of Stratfor President George Friedman, the FBI promptly sent out the list of stolen card numbers to the credit card companies in order to immediately activate the security procedures intended to prevent the illegal use of the cards. For reasons of privacy, however, it did not release the origin of these last.

The hackers sent out thousands of emails to Stratfor subscribers using the database of stolen emails. The intention was to denigrate the company, but also to steal more information. This was accomplished (using phishing techniques) by sending out false video messages and false communications. The credit card data of many Stratfor subscribers was taken from the servers. George Friedman has accepted all responsibility for the security breach and has not hidden his embarrassment with regards to the fact that the sensitive data had not been encrypted, especially given the nature of the company which works in the area of security analysis.

George Friedman has directed attention to the unsettling fact that the objective of the attack was to censure Stratfor, while the greater part of the media coverage concentrated on the theft of the credit card information. The new element that has emerged with this attack is the aim to censure information, an action that has been carried out by people that hide behind a mask («This is a new censorship that doesn’t come openly from governments but from people hiding behind masks»[George Friedman]).

George Friedman again states: «This attack was clearly designed to silence us by destroying our records and the website, unlike most attacks by such groups».

It is our opinion that this act, conducted to damage Stratfor and its subscribers, will have repercussions the nature of which is difficult to foresee. This is because the attack seems to be advanced with subversive tactics that imply that there is an underlying project that is both articulate and complex in its strategic objectives. Knowing this, we believe that the primary objective of the hacker attack was to discredit the Economic Intelligence services offered by Stratfor, which use the Internet to gather, analyse, and diffuse information («We are what we said we were: an organization that generates its revenues through geopolitical analysis. At the core of our business, we objectively acquire, organize, analyze and distribute information» [George Friedman]).