A rogue group of malicious hackers penetrated the database of U.S. think tank Stratfor over the Christmas holiday weekend and stole thousands of credit card files. Those credit cards were then subsequently used to make online payments to a variety of charitable organizations. Modern day digital Robin Hood? Think again.
Stratfor, short for Strategic Forecasting, is a company that caters to the U.S. intelligence community. Hence, it is loosely tied to the U.S. government, making it a target of Anonymous-like hackers. The company tracks global open data to come up with a daily briefing that it sells to its clients. The client list was confidential until the hackers published it on Dec. 24, 2011.
The hackers claim that the credit card data in Stratfor’s database was unencrypted. Even though most Anonymous hacks are not designed for outright theft, this wing of the group used the credit card information and started making payments to charities such as the American Red Cross, CARE, Save The Children and Africa Child Foundation. Approximately 17,000 cards were compromised in the hack (though not all had payments to charitable organizations).
The Stratfor hack was apparently done by a group of Anonymous associated with a hacker named Sabu. After Sabu and others posted the Stratfor information online, the main Anonymous group moved quickly to say that they had no part in the breach of the company. The Stratfor website is currently offline as of Monday, Dec. 26 at 12:35 p.m. EST.