Breach, Data Security, Threat Management

Anonymous switches gears to target oil, ag firms


Story updated on Thursday, July 14 at 12:22 p.m.

As one major corporation confirms that its systems were successfully hacked, the perpetrators behind the attack are on to something else.

Such is life in 2011, when news of a data breach seems to be the rule, not the exception.

On Tuesday, the latest victim, Booz Allen Hamilton, a major government consulting firm, confirmed that its systems were breached of data related to a "learning management system for a government agency."

The company did not reveal any specifics, but earlier this week the hacktivist group Anonymous, which took credit for the attack, released the email addresses and encrypted passwords of some 90,000 military users, all siphoned, it claimed, from a vulnerable server at Booz Allen.

"We are communicating with our clients and analyzing the nature of this attack and the data files attached," the Booz Allen statement said. "We maintain our commitment to protect our clients and our firm from illegal thefts of information."

Around the time that the consultant confirmed the compromise, Anonymous already was on to its next operation, this one titled "Operation Green Rights presents: Project Tarmageddon."

The project opposes the development of the Alberta oil sands because of environmental concerns. Anonymous named crude manufacturers Exxon Mobil, ConocoPhillips, Canadian Oil Sands Ltd., Imperial Oil and oil financier the Royal Bank of Scotland as targets.

"Anonymous now joins in the struggle against 'Big Oil' in the heartland of the U.S.," according to a statement. "We stand in solidarity with any citizen willing to protest corporate abuse. Anonymous will not stand by idly and let these environmental atrocities continue."

But it was agricultural biotech company Monsanto, which makes genetically engineered seeds and growth hormones, that has drawn the most recent ire from Anonymous, upset over Monsanto's business practices. Anonymous has documented its gripes here.

In retaliation, Anonymous leaked the names, addresses and phone numbers of 2,500 employees and associates.

"Last month, Monsanto experienced a disruption to our websites which appeared to be organized by a cyber-group," company spokesman Tom Helscher said in an email statement sent to "In addition, this group also recently published publicly available information on approximately 2,500 individuals involved in the broader global agriculture industry. Contrary to initial media reports, only 10 percent of this publicly available information related to Monsanto's current and former employees."

Anonymous, in a statement posted to Pastebin, said it compromised three of the company's mail servers and knocked its website offline.

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