Anonymous Hacks Military Megacontractor

Anonymous members at a 2008 anti-Scientology rally in Los Angeles.Wikimedia Commons/<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Anonymous_at_Scientology_in_Los_Angeles.jpg">Vincent Diamante</a>

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They called it Military Meltdown Monday, and it’s certain to raise the temparature in national security circles. Anonymous, the hacktivist hive mind that’s messed with Scientologists, the Westboro Baptists, and WikiLeaks’ foes, set its sights on defense megacontractor Booz Allen Hamilton and came back with 90,000 military emails and passwords. “Thanks to the gross incompetence at Booz Allen Hamilton,” the group boasted yesterday, “probably all military mersonnel [sic] of the U.S. will now have to change their passwords.”

AntiSec, a hacker group allied with the Anons, announced the coup (and dumped the data) on the Swedish site The Pirate Bay with a helping of mirth: “We infiltrated a server on their network that basically had no security measures in place…and began plundering some booty. Most shiny is probably a list of roughly 90,000 military emails and password hashes…Happy cracking.”

Why was Booz Allen targeted? As Mother Jones‘ Josh Harkinson has reported in his Chamberleaks series, last February Anonymous went after Aaron Barr, a computer security expert “who’d tried to infiltrate the well-known hactivist group and sell his findings to the FBI.” Barr’s emails show that he’d been coordinating his Anonymous investigation with Booz Allen, a large military contractor that generates 84 percent of its revenue from defense deals.

The firm also provided “oversight” for the Bush administration’s interception of international financial records “as a substitute for genuine checks and balances on its surveillance activities,” according to the ACLU. In its statement, Anonymous wrote that it “has been investigating them for some time, and has uncovered all sorts of other shady practices by the company, including potentially illegal surveillance systems, corruption between company and government officials, warrantless wiretapping, and several other questionable surveillance projects.”

It’s hard to say just how momentous this break-in was—neither Booz Allen nor the Pentagon have commented on it yet—but it has certainly excited hackers as they set to work decrypting the military email accounts’ passwords. And Anon’s touting the caper with characteristic bravado. Near the end of its Pirate Bay missive, the group includes a bill to Booz Allen for $310 “for our audit of your security systems.” And finally: “Pwned. U mad, bro?”

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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