WikiLeaks to Release Hacked STRATFOR Emails

By Chris Freeburn February 27, 2012

The worldwide hacking wars heated up again on Monday when WikiLeaks announced that it would soon publish more than five million emails illicitly obtained from Texas-based global strategy firm STRATFOR, the Associated Press (AP) reported. WikiLeaks indicated that the unveiling of STRATFOR’s emails would be conducted with a number of international press outlets. Rolling Stone magazine and German broadcaster NDR indicated that they had been approached by WikiLeaks to reveal the emails.

WikiLeaks offered a hint of what was to come, releasing a small sample of STRATFOR emails, including one detailing a $6,000 payment by STRATFOR to a source in the Middle East in exchange for information. Other emails contained potentially offense office dialogue between STRATFOR employees, according to the AP. The emails released so far did not appear to contain any dramatic revelations regarding STRATFOR’s business or its sources, the AP noted; however, WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange hinted at more incendiary emails soon to be released.

"What we have discovered is a company that is a private intelligence Enron," Assange told London's Frontline Club, the AP said, noting a reference to the Texas energy firm that infamously collapsed due to financial mismanagement in 2001. The AP reported that Assange claimed that STRATFOR had conducted surveillance of activists at the behest of its corporate clients and have leveraged its strategic intelligence to make investments.

According to the AP, STRATFOR has steadfastly denied any wrong-doing. "STRATFOR has worked to build good sources in many countries around the world, as any publisher of global geopolitical analysis would do," STRATFOR commented in a statement. "We have done so in a straightforward manner and we are committed to meeting the highest standards of professional conduct." The AP noted that STRATFOR was limiting its public remarks on the WikiLeaks matter. "Having had our property stolen, we will not be victimized twice by submitting to questioning about them," the STRATFOR statement concluded.

Assange refused to explain how the STRATFOR emails came into WikiLeaks’ possession, the AP said. STRATFOR has claimed that its computer network was penetrated by the hacker group Anonymous in December. The AP noted that the December hacking incident led to the theft of thousands of STRATFOR client credit card numbers. According to an article in Wired magazine, a member of Anonymous claimed that information stolen from STRATFOR’s network had been given to WikiLeaks.

The AP said that the effect of the incident on STRATFOR remained unclear, but quoted Jeffrey Addicott, the director for the Center of Terrorism Law at St. Mary's University in San Antonio, Texas, who said: "When people discover, 'Hey, here's your clients,' then your clients are chilled," said. "It causes a certain uproar." That uproar may have already affected some STRATFOR clients, including The Dow Chemical Co., which appeared to have used STRATFOR to monitor activists who criticized the company over its handling of the Bhopal gas leak disaster.

Dow released a written statement that "major companies are often required to take appropriate action to protect their people and safeguard their facilities," adding that it operated within the law, the AP said.

Edited by Rich Steeves

TechZone360 Web Editor

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