Anonymous hacks companies and forces them into charitable donations
Uh-oh! Thousands of private and government organisations are furiously flicking through their accounts and statements after hacktivists linked to the Anonymous collective made off with a load of credit card information from an American security firm on Christmas Eve.
Then, they went and made a load of donations to charities, which is pretty funny. Apparently, the hackers donated $500,000 to charities online using the stolen data.
The attack went after Stratfor, a Texas-based company which helps to do the security for banks, oil companies and police agencies and of course, a fair chunk of the hack was posted online with files including more than 50,000 credit card, 87,000 email addresses and 44,000 encrypted passwords. British firms such as BP, HSBC and Tesco are named in the files.
“Just a small preview of the mayhem to come,” a message posted with the sample said, “one out of 2.7 million”.
The action was given the name of “Operation Robin Hood” by supporters, but critics chided the hack by saying that the fraudulent donations would only tie up charity staff with administration.
“At the first glance, actions like this look a bit like the actions of Robin Hood - steal from the rich, give to the poor”, said Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at F-Secure and a leading commentator on cyber crime. “In fact, these actions will just end up hurting the charities, not helping them.”
“When credit card owners see unauthorized charges on their cards, they report them to their bank or credit card company. Credit card companies will do a chargeback to the charities, which will have to return the money. In some cases, charities could be hit with penalties. At the very least, they will lose time and money in handling the chargebacks.”
Or, each firm could sort their security out and let the charitable donations stand as a nice gesture?