'Anonymous' Hackers Infiltrate Security Think Tank

A network of hackers who call themselves “Anonymous” claims they have stolen thousands of credit card numbers and personal information from clients of the security think tank Stratfor.

Victims reportedly confirmed that thousands of transactions were linked to their credit card, while hackers say their goal was to use the stolen funds for Christmas donations.

Stratfor’s confidential client list includes Apple Inc., the U.S. Air Force and the Miami Police Department, according to sources. Anonymous bragged about stealing over 4,000 credit card numbers, passwords and addresses from a number of high-profile clients.

In a Twitter message saying, “Not so private anymore?” the hackers bragged about a “Christmas-inspired” attack on the list of targets. They claimed that the initial assault was only the beginning and they promise more leaks. Anonymous said it was able to get credit card details because Stratfor failed to encrypt them.

Statfor’s vice president of intelligence Fred Burton said the company had reported the intrusion to authorities and are working with them on the investigation. He claimed that Stratfor has protections in place to prevent these kinds of attacks.

“But I think hackers live in this kind of world where once they fixate on you or try to attack you it’s extraordinarily difficult to defend against,” Burton said, according to The Associated Press.

Anonymous went as far as to tweet a link to encrypted files online with names, phone numbers, emails, addresses and credit card account details not long after publishing Stratfor’s client list.

“Not as many as expected? Worry not, fellow pirates and robin hoods. These are just the A’s,” read their message posted online.

Ironically, Anonymous also posted a link on Twitter to a site containing the email, phone number and credit number of a U.S. Homeland Security employee. They also posted images of receipts for donations made by the group, using the credit card information that was stolen.

“Thank You Defense Intelligence Agency,” said the text on one of the images.

The image appeared to display the transaction summary of an employee’s information, which was used to donate $250 to a non-profit company.

Allen Barr, a retired Texas banker, discovered last Friday that $700 had been spent from his account. According to Barr, a total of five transactions were made on his account, donating to charities like the American Red Cross.

“It was all charities, the Red Cross, CARE, Save the Children. So when the credit card company called my wife, she wasn’t sure whether I was just donating,” Barr said.

According to reports, Barr didn’t even know about the illegal transactions until he was contacted by reporters.