UPDATE— The passwords that Anonymous leaked are inaccurate, a system administrator told The Atlantic Wire on Thursday afternoon. The Atlantic Wire also printed the email that Congress staffers received in regard to the hack, which says that "the posted credentials are not accurate, and many disclosed accounts are long expired." In addition, The Atlantic Wire learned that Congress actually has strict rules to ensure that staffers' passwords are strong.
The hacktivist group Anonymous claimed on one of its many Twitter accounts Wednesday that it had hacked into accounts belonging to various members of Congress and their staffers, publishing an online document that shows elected officials are not very careful in how they craft passwords to protect sensitive government emails.
The hack came in response to recent revelations of widespread Internet and phone surveillance conducted by the U.S. government. Anonymous included the hashtags #FISA, referencing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which allows for the spying, and #PRISM, the name of a secret government surveillance program, in its tweet.
The group removed some of the passwords from its online listing, and "shuffled the order of the remaining ones," it wrote in the document. "We reserve the right to spontaneously decide this restraint was unjustified," the group stated.
As the Atlantic Wire points out, this leaked information shows that members of Congress and staffers are pretty terrible at creating passwords. Passwords listed include state names, favorite sports teams, and even the classic "password" -- probably the worst thing to choose for security.
When asked on Twitter if "pissing off the House" is productive, Anonymous responded that "pissed off is exactly how Congress should be feeling. If it cannot wield the rod, it shall not be spared the rod."
This isn't the first time Anonymous has hacked the U.S. government. Last February, Anonymous claimed that it hacked the Federal Reserve computers to release thousands of bank executives' credentials. Anonymous also claimed that it hacked the U.S. Sentencing Commission's website in January. Many of Anonymous's government hacks in the past were said to be in honor of Internet activist Aaron Swartz, who took his own life in January while facing prosecution for allegedly stealing millions of online documents from JSTOR.