In recent days, the hacker group known as “anonymous” has been involved in an operation called “OpLastResort.” The organization has been hacking into sites ranging from the U.S. Department of Justice to the Federal Reserve and many other state government websites. These attacks are ostensibly revenge for the hand the government had in the suicide of Aaron Schwartz, but what if that is not the whole truth? What if these are carefully crafted steps in a larger scheme?
This is a theory posited by the folks at the Security Watch section of PCMag.com. The most recent attack grabbed personal information of over 4,000 bank executives and released that data to the public. The information came from the St. Louis branch of the Federal Reserve.
The Fed, of course, was contrite, releasing a fairly generic statement. "The Federal Reserve System is aware that information was obtained by exploiting a temporary vulnerability in a website vendor product," it stated. "The exposure was fixed shortly after discovery. It is no longer an issue. This incident did not affect critical operations of the Federal Reserve system."
But what seems like a minor inconvenience to some and a hack of no consequence to others may actually be part of a larger scheme. These 4,000 individuals could be targets of upcoming social engineering and hacking attacks. Their business e-mails and phone numbers were part of the stolen data, but so were their personal e-mail addresses and cell phone numbers. This information can be used by smart hackers as part of phishing or other attacks. So, while anonymous may not have come away with millions of dollars in this first attack, they could be setting themselves up to wreak havoc on these people for months to come.
Stay tuned. No matter what happens, you can be sure that @OpLastResort will tweet about it…