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A U.S. security firm that claimed to have uncovered the real identity of Anonymous members responsible for a recent spate of web site attacks became a victim of Anonymous itself, when members of the online vigilante group breached the company’s network and stole more than 60,000 internal e-mails. The group posted the e-mail spool Sunday on the Pirate Bay torrent site for anyone to download and sift through.
HBGary Federal, which does classified work for the U.S. federal government among other security work, claimed it had been working with the FBI to unmask hackers behind recent denial-of-service attacks against PayPal, Visa, MasterCard and Amazon. Members of Anonymous — a loosely structured group of internet troublemakers — had organized the mass attacks after the companies suspended accounts used by WikiLeaks to receive donations and host documents. More recently, members of the group directed denial-of-service attacks against government web sites in Tunisia and Egypt.
The hack against HBGary Federal occurred after the Financial Times published a story on Saturday quoting Aaron Barr, CEO of the company. Barr said his company’s researchers had uncovered clues to the real identities of top members of Anonymous by monitoring chat rooms and Facebook groups they frequented. Barr identified a co-founder of the group, who goes by the name Q, and said he planned to give some of the information to the FBI. He also planned to present his findings at the RSA Security Conference in San Francisco next week.
On Sunday, Anonymous ridiculed the company’s research skills and the accuracy of its data in a press release posted at Daily Kos, mocking the company’s “infiltration of our entirely secret IRC server anonops.ru and in particular our ultra-classified channels #opegypt, #optunisia, and, of course, #reporters, which itself is the most secret of all.”