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Re: Anonymous Hack Brings Security Firm To Its Knees

Released on 2012-03-06 00:00 GMT

Email-ID 1648013
Date 2011-02-17 16:44:21
The illegality of hacking aside, these guys asked for it.

On 2/17/11 9:38 AM, Fred Burton wrote:

Anonymous Hack Brings Security Firm To Its Knees

The hacktivist group Anonymous is at it again. This time, it has
humiliated an Internet security firm that threatened to out the group's

If you remember, Anonymous has been in the news, first, because in
support of WikiLeaks, it undertook cyberattacks that brought down the
websites of Visa and Mastercard. Second, because it brought down the
sites of some government entities in Egypt and helped the
anti-government protesters with technical help. Third, because as NPR's
Martin Kaste reported, the FBI is hot on the group's heels
(Kaste has more
on tonight's /All Things Considered/.)

Today, the website ArsTechnica ran a piece
that details how Anonymous methodically went after HBGary Federal's
digital infrastructure. Earlier this month, HBGary Federal's CEO Aaron
Barr said the company, which specializes in analyzing vulnerabilities in
computer security for companies and even some government agencies, had
undertaken an investigation of Anonymous and had used social media to
unmask the group's most important people.

/The Financial Times/ reported:

Of a few hundred participants in operations, only about 30 are
steadily active, with 10 people who "are the most senior and
co-ordinate and manage most of the decisions," Mr. Barr told the
Financial Times. That team works together in private internet relay
chat sessions, through e-mail and in Facebook groups. Mr Barr said
he had collected information on the core leaders, including many of
their real names, and that they could be arrested if law enforcement
had the same data.

Barr said an HBGary representative was set to give a presentation at a
security conference in San Francisco, but as soon as Anonymous got wind
of their plans, it hacked into HBGary's servers, rifled through their
e-mails and published them to the web. The group defaced HBGary's
website and published the user registration database of another site
owned by Greg Hoglund, owner of HBGary.

Amazingly, reports ArsTechnica, Anonymous managed all this by exploiting
easy and everyday security flaws. First, it found that the content
management system =97 a program that allows for easy publishing to the web
=97 had a security vulnerability. The group was able to get into the
usernames and passwords from the database and, as ArsTechnica puts it,
HBGary employees did not follow Internet best practices and used the
same passwords over and over on different sites including their e-mail
accounts, Twitter and LinkedIn accounts.

If you're interested in the details of the operation, ArsTechnica does a
great job at putting it in easy-to-understand words. But perhaps one of
the more interesting things the piece manages to cull is a profile of
the people behind Anonymous.

The popular characterization has been that it's a bunch of kids. But
ArsTechnica, which spoke to Anonymous members, says that:

Anonymous is a diverse bunch: though they tend to be younger rather
than older, their age group spans decades. Some may still be in
school, but many others are gainfully employed office-workers,
software developers, or IT support technicians, among other things.
With that diversity in age and experience comes a diversity of
expertise and ability.

As for HBGary, the attacks forced it to pull out of the RSA Security
conference in San Francisco, the biggest of its kind. The company posted
a sign outside its booth
with the same note that's on its website

A group of aggressive hackers known as "Anonymous" illegally broke
into computer systems and stole proprietary and confidential
information from HBGary, Inc. This breach was in violation of
federal and state laws, and stolen information was publicly released
without our consent.

In addition to the data theft, HBGary individuals have received
numerous threats of violence including threats at our tradeshow booth.

In an effort to protect our employees, customers and the RSA
Conference community, HBGary has decided to remove our booth and
cancel all talks.

HBGary is continuing to work intensely with law enforcement on this
matter and hopes to bring those responsible to justice.

Thank you to all of our employees, our customers and the security
community for your continued support.

HBGary, Inc.

Forbes reports
that HBGary has become "toxic," its clients and partners cutting ties.
It reports that CEO Barr also canceled the talk at the B-Sides
conference, which was supposed to be about Anonymous.


Sean Noonan

Tactical Analyst

Office: +1 512-279-9479

Mobile: +1 512-758-5967

Strategic Forecasting, Inc.