FBI warns of widespread U.S. government network breaches by Anonymous hackers

“Activist hackers linked to the collective known as Anonymous have secretly accessed U.S. government computers in multiple agencies and stolen sensitive information in a campaign that began almost a year ago, the FBI warned this week,” Jim Finkle and Joseph Menn report for Reuters. “The hackers exploited a flaw in Adobe Systems Inc’s software to launch a rash of electronic break-ins that began last December, then left ‘back doors’ to return to many of the machines as recently as last month, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said in a memo seen by Reuters.”

“The memo, distributed on Thursday, described the attacks as ‘a widespread problem that should be addressed.’ It said the breach affected the U.S. Army, Department of Energy, Department of Health and Human Services, and perhaps many more agencies,” Finkle and Menn report. “Investigators are still gathering information on the scope of the cyber campaign, which the authorities believe is continuing. The FBI document tells system administrators what to look for to determine if their systems are compromised.”

“According to an internal email from Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz’ chief of staff, Kevin Knobloch, the stolen data included personal information on at least 104,000 employees, contractors, family members and others associated with the Department of Energy, along with information on almost 2,0000 bank accounts,” Finkle and Menn report. “The Anonymous group is an amorphous collective that conducts multiple hacking campaigns at any time, some with a few participants and some with hundreds… Some of the breaches and pilfered data in the latest campaign had previously been publicized by people who identify with Anonymous, as part of what the group dubbed ‘Operation Last Resort.’ Among other things, the campaigners said the operation was in retaliation for overzealous prosecution of hackers, including the lengthy penalties sought for Aaron Swartz, a well-known computer programmer and Internet activist who killed himself before a trial over charges that he illegally downloaded academic journal articles from a digital library known as JSTOR.”

Read more in the full article here.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews readers too numerous to mention individually for the heads up.]

Related articles:
Anonymous claim Apple’s Touch ID is linked to U.S. government surveillance – October 1, 2013
Anonymous creates AnonPaste, new site where hacktivists can dump stolen data – April 19, 2012
FBI arrests suspected LulzSec and Anonymous hackers – September 22, 2011
Anonymous claims DNS attacks against Apple, Microsoft, Facebook, Symantec, and others – August 31, 2011
Anonymous hacker group publishes 27 usernames from Apple survey site – July 5, 2011

40 Comments

    1. He did kill himself. Aaron had long battled depression. It was well known and while it drove him to take his own life I also believe it drove the core of his genius.

      R.I.P buddy

    2. You’ve gone too far off the ignorance scale this time botvinnik.

      Jeremiah Grossman is one of the most famous hackers in the world, one of the originators of the ‘White Hat’ hacker movement. Here is what Jeremiah had to say about the persecution/prosecution and suicide of Aaron Swartz, including links to information about Aaron:

      http://jeremiahgrossman.blogspot.com/2013/01/aarons-suicide-system-contributed.html

      When he was 14 years old, Aaron helped develop the RSS standard; he went on to found Infogami, which became part of Reddit. But more than anything Aaron was a coder with a conscience: a tireless and talented hacker who poured his energy into issues like network neutrality, copyright reform and information freedom. Among countless causes, he worked with Larry Lessig at the launch of the Creative Commons, architected the Internet Archive’s free public catalog of books, OpenLibrary.org, and in 2010 founded Demand Progress, a non-profit group that helped drive successful grassroots opposition to SOPA last year.

      http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2013/01/aaron-swartz/

      Aaron was brilliant and devoted to using his skills to help others. He also suffered from depression.

    1. I apologize for my knee-jerk, tunnel-visioned view of politics. I must acknowledge that lots of personal data has been collected by the U.S. government under the umbrella of the “Patriot Act” – the legislation that my GOP championed as necessary to fight terrorism. The ongoing U.S. spy campaign is just a natural progression of the activities started under the Patriot Act in the early 2000s. That data is just as much as risk as any “private, personal, confidential” information collected by the ACA database, and it was collected without your consent or knowledge. My bad.

      Furthermore, I formally acknowledge that the GOP under the leadership of former President Bush and former Vice President Dick “Darth Vader” Cheney dragged the reputation of the United States into the sewer by authorizing torture under the guise of “enhanced interrogation” and, thus, violating the Geneva Conventions championed by this country.

      I am an unreasonable turd and so is botvinnik. Actually, botvinnik is even worse and I do not like him. In fact, neither do the rest of my politically like-minded pals on this forum.

      I am turning over a new leaf. I hereby pledge to cease my incessant and irritating political posts on this forum. If you see me slipping, please do not hesitate to curse my name far and wide as an extremist hypocrite.

      1. I never claimed any allegiance to the Republican Party, I have always stated that there is absolutely no difference between the policies of Obama Messiah, Dubya, Horndog Billy and CIA George. I have no desire to “turn over a new leaf” in my efforts to defend liberty as enumerated in the Unites States Constitution…I do not care care who “likes me” on any forum as a result of my views nor will I ever stop defending and promoting the rights of man.

        1. I hereby admit that I am a complete turd, as identified by F14T16. It is painful to face the truth, but it Had to happen sooner or later.

          I also admit that I really, truly want everyone on this forum to like me and to express their awe of my Sheldonesque intellect.

          Furthermore, I must also admit that I am an anarchist at heart, because I believe that government should only perform those functions that are possible without taxing anyone.

          I am truly afflicted with a superiority complex and an incessant talking disorder. Please disregard every future post of mine, understanding that I cannot refrain from posting the same inane comments ad nasuem.

          1. You could do the Republican trifecta and come out of the closet at the same time.

            Repression breeds Conservatism, Religious Fundamentalism and Intolerance.

      2. I don’t know who faked being First-Then. But I thank you! You wrote my laugh of the day.

        And as ever, this thread points out the worthlessness of anonymous coward posts here at MDN. Anyone can be anyone and can say anything. Honesty and sanity go out the window. Trolls have a party. Coward posts become the norm.

        So flame me for pointing this out yet again. 😛

    2. I take it your private insurer uses only pen and paper. And an abacus. Yes? Either that or their systems are hack-proof. I mean, private insurers have such a stellar reputation for managing their data.
      /irony

  1. It should be no surprise to any government that becomes a terroristic and a threat to the security of the plane to have to wide spread network breaches indeed taken advantage of. All part of having the low moral ground.

  2. The real villain in the article is Adobe. It’s how the hackers walked in.

    “Adobe spokeswoman Heather Edell said she was not familiar with the FBI report. She added that the company has found that the majority of attacks involving its software have exploited programs that were not updated with the latest security patches.”

    Weasel words.

  3. You mean, someone is spying on the US government without their consent?!!? No one should invade the government’s rights to privacy! They should be entitled the same considerations as their citizens.

    /s

    1. And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think?

      It’s like rain on your wedding day
      It’s a free ride when you’ve already paid
      It’s the good advice that you just didn’t take
      Who would’ve thought… it figures

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