Anonymous steps up attacks with hits on Alabama, Mexico and (maybe) CIA
- By Kevin McCaney
- Feb 13, 2012
The spate of hacktivist attacks on government systems picked up speed again late last week, with Anonymous taking credit for hacks of Alabama’s state servers, government sites in Mexico and claiming, but then disavowing, an attack on the CIA’s website.
The United Nations’ website also was attacked, though apparently by another hacker.
Anonymous posted a release on PasteBay saying it attacked Alabama police and government servers and harvested personal information — including Social Security numbers, birth dates and addresses — on more than 40,000 people.
Can government stem the rise of hacktivism?
FBI's Megaupload bust, Anonymous' hacks underscore SOPA battle
The release said the attack was a protest against the state’s “racist” immigration laws, and also blamed the state for failing to protect its citizens by air-gapping and encrypting their data, which the group said it had deleted.
“Because of the possible cost of lives and money to regular citizens, we are deleting this data,” the group said. The release included a sampling of the taken data, redacted to protect the identities of the people involved.
“We mean no harm by releasing this redacted information,” the group said. “This data was not securely segregated from the Internet, nor was it properly encrypted. This is what happens when not enough resources are spent on proper design and the training that comes with it.”
Anonymous posted the release on Feb. 10, the same day a member of the loose collective announced on the YourAnonNews Twitter feed that the group had taken down the CIA website. “#Anonymous takes down main CIA website https://www.cia.gov/; site is still down,” the message read.
But a later tweet on the same feed backed away from that claim, saying, “We'd remind media that if we report a hack or [Distributed Denial of Service] attack, it doesn't necessarily mean we did it...FYI.”
A CIA spokesman acknowledged the agency’s site had a temporary outage on Friday, Feb. 10, but did not offer a cause, The Register reported. The site was back to normal operations by Saturday. The CIA’s website also was taken down after an attack in June, claimed by the group LulzSec.
In Mexico, Anonymous attacked the Mexican Senate, Interior Ministry and other government sites in protest of that country’s proposed anti-piracy law, PC Magazine reported. The group also attacked sites connected with Mexico’s mining industry and released 730M of e-mails from the Mexican National Chamber of Mines—those attacks coming in protest of the working conditions for miners, the article said.
The Mexican anti-piracy law is that country’s version of the U.S. Stop Online Piracy Act in the House, which has pretty much been abandoned after large-scale protests in January.
Hacktivist attacks against government and other websites have accelerated over the past month, coinciding with protests over anti-piracy legislation — SOPA, its Protect Intellectual Property Act counterpart in the Senate, and the proposed international Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement — along with anti-piracy crackdowns such as the recent bust of the Megaupload file-sharing site.
After the FBI shut down Megaupload and arrested several of its leaders, Anonymous attacked the websites of the FBI, Justice Department and White House, as well as those of several entertainment companies.
Among other attacks since, Anonymous broke into a Boston Police Department site, shut down a Federal Trade Commission site and intercepted and released a call between the FBI and Scotland Yard in which detectives discussed cyber crime investigations.
A day before the CIA, Mexico and Alabama attacks, a hacker broke into the United Nations website and posted a list of the systems’ potential vulnerabilities on Pastebin, apparently in protest of anti-piracy efforts, Fox News reported. The hacker’s post included a message citing Internet freedom and equal rights.
Kevin McCaney is a former editor of Defense Systems and GCN.