Anonymous hits security firm HBGary Federal

In cyberspace they call it “getting pwned”. And that's exactly what happened to American tech security company HBGary Federal when they tried to infiltrate the so-called hacktivist network known as Anonymous.



In an interview over the weekend Aaron Barr, the Washington based company's chief executive, claimed that his firm had successfully infiltrated the shadowy cyber collective behind a series of recent pro-WikiLeaks cyber protests.

Anonymous' revenge was swift and brutal. Using sophisticated hacking techniques, the group managed to deface HBGary's website, break into its messaging system to dump 60,000 emails onto it and hijack Mr Barr's Twitter account to tweet abuse and publish his supposed home address and social security number.

Over the past four years Anonymous have gained a reputation for being one of the internet's most mercurial and chaotic meeting spaces for online mischief makers. But in recent months they have achieved global notoriety thanks to a series of cyber assaults on government and commercial websites that are critical of WikiLeaks.

Their denial of service attacks on companies like PayPal, Mastercard and Visa has resulted in intense police scrutiny with recent arrests in Britain, the Netherlands and the United States as well as increased attempts by private security firms to uncover who, if anyone, is behind the organisation.

Mr Barr claimed his firm had managed to infiltrate Anonymous through their chat rooms and claimed that the organisation was being run by a hardcore of 30 members along with 10 who "are the most senior and co-ordinate and manage most of the decisions." Anonymous have always styled themselves as a somewhat anarchic democratic collective with no leadership.

In a message left on HBGary's website, the successful hackers taunted their would-be pursuers with a statement that read: “You think you've gathered full names and addresses of the 'higher-ups' of Anonymous? You haven't. You think Anonymous has a founder and various co-founders? False."

The attack, which was a significantly more complex hack than recent denial of service assaults used by Anonymous, successfully penetrated HBGary's website through a compromised support server. It mirrors a similar modus operandi used by the group to target ACS:Law, a British legal firm that controversially sent threatening letters to alleged file-sharers. Anonymous responded with frequent cyber assaults, including the leaking of a database of 5,000 alleged porn pirates the firm apparently intended to sue.

Greg Hoglund, the founder of HBGary, has promised his own revenge. "They didn't just pick on any company,” he told cyber security journalist Brian Krebs. “We try to protect the US government from hackers. They couldn't have chosen a worse company to pick on."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: KS2 Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is a two form entry primary schoo...

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee