Anonymous vs. Stratfor: the real issues

Summary:So far, the coverage of Anonymous' hack of American intelligence firm Stratfor has focused on the stolen credit cards and subscriber lists. But the real target was their email archives.

So far, the coverage of Anonymous' hack of American intelligence firm Stratfor has focused on the stolen credit cards and subscriber lists. But the real target was their email archives.

According to an article by Barrett Brown, who frequently acts as the public face of Anonymous, Stratfor's email archive will reveal "untold thousands" of contacts who have spoken to the company's employees off the record over more than a decade.

"Many of those contacts work for major corporations within the intelligence and military contracting sectors, government agencies and other institutions for which Anonymous and associated parties have developed an interest since February of 2011," Brown wrote.

February 2011 was when another Anonymous hack, against defence contractor and IT security firm HBGary Federal, revealed what Brown calls "a widespread conspiracy by the Justice Department, Bank of America and other parties to attack and discredit Wikileaks and other activist groups".

So, with the truly interesting trove of Stratfor data still to be released, the first Patch Monday podcast for 2012 provides some background.

What is Stratfor? What is Anonymous? What might be revealed? What are the implications for Stratfor and for the company's contacts and clients? And what lessons can we learn from Stratfor's security mistakes?

Our guest is Richard Stiennon, chief research analyst with IT-Harvest, a privately held IT security-research firm based in Detroit, Michigan. He also edits and publishes the newsletter Cyber Defence Weekly, and is author of the book Surviving Cyberwar.

One key lesson is to use complex passwords, and to never re-use them. Fortunately, there's good advice in cartoons by xkcd and Savage Chickens.

Patch Monday also includes my usual look at some of last week's news headlines.

To leave an audio comment on the program, Skype to stilgherrian, or phone (02) 8011 3733.

Running time: 41 minutes, 14 seconds

Topics: Collaboration, Security

About

Stilgherrian is a freelance journalist, commentator and podcaster interested in big-picture internet issues, especially security, cybercrime and hoovering up bulldust. He studied computing science and linguistics before a wide-ranging media career and a stint at running an IT business. He can write iptables firewall rules, set a rabbit tr... Full Bio

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