Stratfor attacked by hackers

January 9, 2012

by Maurizio Agazzi

One of the most important private intelligence companies in the U.S.A. fell under attack on Christmas day. The attack is attributed to the hacker group Anonymous.

Stratfor, the well-know private intelligence company that provides economic, military, and political analyses to important clients, like Apple and the US AIR-Force, fell under an attack launched by hackers on 25 December 2011. More than 860,000 names were stolen, along with 75,000 credit card numbers. To date, the Stratfor website cannot be accessed and the email service has been suspended. The hackers have sent out thousands of phishing emails and spam using the stolen names with the aim to steal more information and credit card information. While under attack, Stratfor has made use of Twitter and Facebook to manage the crisis through press releases, while the Stratfor website itself continues to be out-of-service even two weeks after the attack. Every day, the damage takes on more alarming dimensions for the clients, which have denounced the fraudulent use of their credit cards.

The attack has been attributed to the hacker group Anonymous, which is reported to have claimed the responsibility for the attack on Twitter and YouTube. Hackers within Anonymous affirm that the credit cards were used to make donations to non-profit organisation “Save The Children”, revealing that the attack was made possible by the fact that the Stratfor client database (of over 200GB) had not been encrypted. This revelation (i.e the lack of data encryption of the sensitive information) has shocked the cyber-security world since data-encryption is a cardinal rule of information security when handling sensitive data and payment information, a hole in the security architecture of the site that has cost to Stratfor much in terms of its reputation.